Adele Marion Fielde.

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THE TEACHER EXPOUNDED A CLASSIC AT EVENTIDE UNDER A TREE.
Frontispiece.



CHINESE NIGHTS'
ENTERTAINMENT



FORTY STORIES TOLD BY ALMOND-EYED FOLK
ACTORS IN THE ROMANCE OF



THE STRAYED ARROW



BY

ADELE M. FIELDE

|V



ILLUSTRATED BY CHINESE ARTISTS



"SPOKEN WORDS VANISH: WRITTEN WORDS ENDURE"

Chinese Proverb



G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS

REET

Jf nicker bother



NEW YORK LONDON

27 WEST TWKNTY-THIRD STREET 24 BEDFORD STREET, STRAND



GTL



Q



COPYRIGHT, 1893, BY

ADELE M. FIELDE

Entered at Stationers' Hall, London
BY ADELE M. FIELDE



Electrotyped, Printed and Bound by

'Cbc TRnicfeevbocfccr press, IRew ]i?<srfc
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS



TO



MY BELOVED FRIENDS
WOMEN OF FAR CATHAY

MY OLDEN COMPANIONS IN SERIOUS WORK
AND IN NEEDED RECREATION



iii

8328 1 4



PREFACE.

'"THESE tales have been heard or overheard by
the writer, as they were told in the Swatow ver-
nacular, by persons who could not read. They and
their kind have furnished mental entertainment for
her during many nights when travelling in a slow
native boat, or sitting in a dim native hut, with
almond-eyed women and children, in the eastern
corner of the Kwangtung province, in Southern
China. She is not aware that any of these stories
have before been rendered into a European tongue.
They have been selected from among many, not less
interesting, but less intelligible to those who are un-
familiar with the beliefs and customs of The Middle
Kingdom.

The romance of The Strayed Arrow, on which the
other forty stories are strung, as beads on a thread,
runs through the volume to an Oriental climax.

The illustrations were prepared, under the direc-
tion of the author, by native artists in the school of
the celebrated painter, Go Leng, at Swatow.

A. M. F.

NEW YORK, 1893.



FORTY FOLK-STORIES



THE FIVE QUEER BROTHERS 5

THE THREE TALISMANS 9

THE ORIGIN OF ANTS 18

THE MISTAKE OF THE APES ...... 27

THE MOON-CAKE 29

THE FOOL OF THE FAMILY 31

HE TRIED TO BE LIKE His BROTHER-IN-LAW ... 33

A DREADFUL BOAR 37

THE Two MELONS 41

THE BLIND BOY'S FALL 44

THE FAIRY SERPENT ....... 45

WHAT THE BIRDS SAID 51

THE MAN IN A SHELL 57

THE YOUNG HEAD OF THE FAMILY 60

PROSPECT AND RETROSPECT . ... . . . 71

A FOREORDAINED MATCH 75

MARRYING A SIMPLETON 80

BALING WITH A SIEVE 87

THE WIDOW AND THE SAGACIOUS MAGISTRATE . . 92

A LAWYER AS A DEBTOR 102

THE SINGING PRISONER ....... 106

SELF-CONVICTED ........ 107

THE LADLE THAT FELL FROM THE MOON . . . m

A WIFE'S VENGEANCE 115

STOLEN GARLIC 123

Two FRUGAL MEN ........ 129

THE MOST FRUGAL OF MEN . . . 132

vii



viii Forty Folk-Stories,



MISAPPLIED WIT ........ 136

SIMILAR DISEASES I4 1

A DREAM INSPIRED 146

A FORTUITOUS APPLICATION ...... 147

JEAN VALJEAN IN CATHAY . . . . . 154

A POLITE IDIOSYNCRASY . 159

VERIFIED PREDICTIONS .... . 163

THE THREE SWORN BROTHERS 168

THE PEASANT-GIRL'S PRISONER . . .171

CRABS IN PLENTY ........ 177

FALSE ECONOMY .181

THE THRIFTLESS WIFE .... 185

A WIFE WITH TWO HUSBANDS . . 188



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



PAGE

THE TEACHER EXPOUNDED A CLASSIC AT EVENTIDE

UNDER A TREE Frontispiece

ARCHERY PRACTICE 3

EIGHT GENII . . . . . . . . .11

A SHOE-SHOP 19

AN APOTHECARY'S SHOP 25

A BARBER SHAVING THE HEAD 35

THE MENDER OF TUBS 47

MUSICIANS .......... 55

A YOUNG GIRL CAME FROM THE FIELDS, RIDING ON A

WATER-BUFFALO ....... 63

A MANDARIN IN His SEDAN-CHAIR 69

A GO-BETWEEN COMES WITH A PROPOSAL OF MARRIAGE . 77

BEFORE THE MAGISTRATE 93

PLOUGHING 103

WOMEN AT A SHRINE ........ 109

THE LOTUS-POOL 119

A FLOWER-SHOW ........ 125

THE BRIDGE ......... 137

CONSULTING A SOOTHSAYER 143

A BEGGAR AND His BLIND WIFE 149

A WHEELED CHAIR ........ 155

A BLIND FORTUNE-TELLER 165

PEASANT-GIRL AND STUDENT 173

FATHER AND FATHER-IN-LAW 179

A MAN RETURNS FROM ABROAD 183

WORSHIPPING AT THE GRAVE OF AN ANCESTOR . . 191



ix



THE STRAYED ARROW.



IN the village of Grand Spur, there lived a poor couple,
who had no children save one daughter, named Pearl.
This little maid troubled her doting parents by begging
that she might learn to read. They found great difficulty
in satisfying her desire. They were themselves incompetent
to teach her, and none of their neighbors were more learned ;
they could not afford to hire a tutor for her, and there was
no school in the village ; it was not customary to instruct
girls in letters, and girls never associated with boys. But
after much thought, under her entreaties, they solved the
problem by dressing her in boys' clothes, finding lodging
for her with her maternal grandmother, in a neighboring
town, and sending her to the private class of a learned JpJ^
ter. There, as a boy, she daily pursued her studies With
boys of her own age, winning praise from her teacher by:
diligence in learning, and gaining the admiration 3 of' her
classmates by skill in athletic sports, particularly in hand-
ling the bow. She always sat at a desk with a studious,
generous boy, named Golden Branch, who was her chief
companion in work and play, and who became the unwitting
possessor of her heart.

The special plague of the two friends was a rude, sly
boy, called Grouse, who often interrupted them in study
hours, and sometimes spoiled their sport in playtime.



The Strayed Arrow.



They three, with a dozen other boys, went to the school-
room before daylight, and conned their lessons silently, so
as not to waken their teacher, who slept in an adjoining
room. At dawn, the eldest pupil knocked at the teacher's
door, and invited him to hear recitations. When the
teacher was ready, each pupil in turn came and stood with
his back to the teacher and his face to the wall, and re-
peated from memory a portion of the classics, after which
his forenoon lesson was twice read to him by the teacher.
Then the boys all went home to breakfast, eating boiled rice
and salt fish from a bowl, with a pair of chopsticks held in
the right hand. After breakfast the boys returned to school,,
swept and dusted the room, washed the teacher's dishes, and
then read, all aloud and each at his own task, till he was
called to recite again. Writing followed, and while the
younger boys sat at their desks tracing letters, with brushes,
on translucent brown paper, the teacher explained to the
older pupils the portions of the classics that they had that
morning committed to memory. When the sun heared the
meridian, the teacher wrote upon a slip of red paper the
subject upon which each boy was to compose a couplet, and
pasted the paper on the wall beside the door. This closed
rthfe; fqrenoon session, and the boys went to their noonday
meal 'b r f jice, stewed meats, and minced vegetables, and
fvor{crcl 9r Splayed awhile, meditating upon the subject pre-
scribed. It might be an admonition, such as " Go out with
awe, come in with fear " ; " To a parent be perfectly obedi-
ent, to the sovereign be completely loyal" ; or it might be
a proverb, such as " A polished up speech, and a corrected
manuscript, are not nearly so neat as the first form"; or
" Tell a stranger only three tenths of what you know " ; or it
might be a passage from an ancient writer, such as " In hew-
ing an axe-handle, the pattern is not far off " ; or "A bad
year cannot prove the cause of death to him whose stores




ARCHERY PRACTICE.

3



The Five Queer Brothers. 5



of grain are large " ; or it might be any terse saying, sanc-
tified by antiquity. On returning to the school-room, in the
middle of the afternoon, the boys wrote out the couplets
they had composed, and took them, one by one, to the
teacher for comment and correction. They then read aloud
till the sun was low, when they went to their suppers of rice
and boiled vegetables, sauntered with their friends in the
twilight, and slept before the curfew gun sounded from the
city wall. The older boys sometimes returned to the court,
where the teacher expounded a classic at eventide under a
tree, and they often spent the evening together in the school-
room, sitting around a lamp of pea-nut oil, with a wick of
bulrush pith, studying, sipping tea, eating cakes, or telling
stories. Their teacher frequently joined them, and one
evening, excusing himself for repeating a story that had no
moral, he told them about



THE FIVE QUEER BROTHERS.

AN old woman had five grown-up sons that
looked just alike. The eldest could gulp up the
ocean at a mouthful ; the second was hard enough
to nick steel ; the third had extensible legs ; the
fourth was unaffected by fire ; the fifth lived without
breathing. They all concealed their peculiar traits,
and their neighbors did not know they were queer.

The eldest supported the family by fishing, going
alone to the sea, and bringing back loads of spoil.
The neighbors often besought him to teach their
sons how to fish, and he at last let all their boys go



The Strayed Arrow.



with him, one day, to learn his art. On reaching
the shore, he sucked the sea into his mouth, and
directed the boys to the dry bottom, to collect the
fish. When he was tired of holding the water, he
beckoned to the boys to return, but they were play-
ing amongst strange objects, and paid no heed to
him. When he could contain the sea no longer, he
had to let it flow back into its former basin, and all
the boys were drowned. As he went homeward, he
passed the doors of the parents, who inquired how
many fish their sons had caught, and how long they
would be in coming back. He told them the facts,
yet they would not excuse him, and they dragged
him before the magistrate to account for the loss of
their children. He defended himself by saying that
he had not invited the boys to go with him, and had
consented to their going only when the parents
had repeatedly urged him ; that, after the boys were
on the ocean-bed, he had done his utmost to induce
them to come ashore ; that he had held the water as
long as he could, and had then put it in the sea-basin
solely because nothing else would contain it. Not-
withstanding this defence, the judge decided that,
since he took the boys away and did not bring them
back, he was guilty of murder, and sentenced him to
decapitation. He entreated leave to pay, before his



The Five Queer Brothers. 7



execution, one visit to his aged mother, and this was
granted. He went alone and told his brothers of his
doom, and the second brother returned in his stead
to the judge, thanked him for having given him per-
mission to perform a duty required by filial piety,
and said he was then ready to die. He knelt with
bowed head, and the headsman brought the knife
down across the back of his neck, but the knife was
nicked and the neck was left unscathed. A second
knife, and a third of finer steel, were brought and tried
by headsmen who were accustomed to sever heads
clean off at one stroke. Having spoiled their best
blades without marring his neck, they took him back
to prison and informed the judge that the sentence
could not be executed.

The judge then decreed that he should be dropped
into the sea which covered his victims. When he
heard this decision, he said that he took leave of his
mother supposing that his head was to be cut off,
and that, if he was to be drowned, he must go to her
and make known his fate, and get her blessing anew.
Permission being given, he went and told his brothers
what had happened, and the third brother took the
place of the second, and presented himself before the
judge as the criminal that was to be sunk in the sea.
He was carried far from shore and thrown over-



8 The Strayed Arrow.



board, but he stretched his legs till his feet touched
bottom, and he stood with his head in the air. They
hauled him aboard and took him farther from land, but
still his extensible legs supported him above the waters.
Then they sailed to mid-ocean, and cast him into its
greatest depths, but his legs still lengthened so that
he was not drowned. They brought him back to the
judge, reported what had been done, and said that some
other method of destroying him must be followed.

He was then condemned to death by being boiled
in oil ; and while the caldron was being heated, he
begged and obtained leave to go and tell his mother
of his late survival, and of the manner in which he
was soon to be taken off. His brothers having heard
the latest judgment, the fourth one went to bear the
penalty of the law, and was lowered into the kettle of
boiling oil, where he disported himself as if in a tepid
bath, and even asked the executioners to stir up the
fire a little to increase the warmth. Finding that he
could not be fried, he was remanded to prison.

Then the populace, the bereaved parents, and the
magistrate joined in effort to invent a sure method
of putting him to death. Water, fire, and sword all
having failed, they finally fixed upon smothering him
in a vast cream-cake. The whole country round
made contributions of flour for the tough pastry,



The Three Talismans. 9



sugar for the viscid filling, and bricks for a huge
oven ; and it was made and baked on a plain outside
the city walls. Meanwhile the prisoner was allowed
to go and bid his mother farewell, and the fifth
brother secretly became his substitute. When the
cake was done, a multitude of people, with oxen,
horses, and ropes, dragged it to the execution
ground, and within it the culprit was interred. As
he was able to exist without air, he rested peacefully
till the next midnight. Then he safely crawled forth,
and returned to his home, where he dwelt happily for
many years with his remarkable brothers.

The boys were so pleased with this tale that Grouse
begged the teacher to tell another, without a moral, and he
consented to do so the following evening, on condition that
they would each tell one in turn. They all agreed to this,
and the next nightfall, the tea being infused and set smoking
in the middle of the square red table, with the tiny, saucer-
less cups well rinsed and ready to receive it, the boys drew
up the benches and sat near the teacher's straight-backed
arm-chair, and he told them the story of

THE THREE TALISMANS.

THERE was once a pious rich man, who spent
his time and used his wealth in worship of the
gods. As he gave his mind to methods of
obeisance, and his money to the purchase of obla-



io The Strayed Arrow.



tions, he, in the course of years, became poor, and
was obliged to consider how he should support his
wife and his three young sons. When he found that
he could get no lucrative employment near home, he
sold all his property except his house, and embarked
in a trading expedition to a distant country. On the
voyage his junk was wrecked, his goods were lost,
and he was cast destitute upon an island that had
but few inhabitants. From these he begged food
and raiment, but no one showed compassion on him
except an apparent outcast, who gave him a hat, a
cloak, and a basket, telling him that the hat, when
held before his breast, would render him invisible ;
the cloak, extended by his arms, would enable him
to fly over water ; and the basket, when tapped by
his fingers, would fill with gems. He took the gifts,
and found that they had the virtues described. The
hat permitted him to partake unseen of the best
cheer in any house ; the cloak carried him across
seas ; and the basket furnished him with means of
supplying all his other needs.

On reaching home, he learned that his wife had
died during his long absence. His three sons had
grown tall, wise, and comely, and the fond father
secretly used his three talismans for their benefit, so
that they soon had vast wealth in land, houses, and




EIGHT GENII.
II



The Three Talismans. 13



coin. After several years, when he knew that he
was about to die from old age, he called his sons to
his bedside, and gave to each a talisman. To the
eldest he gave the cloak, to the second the hat, and
to the youngest and best beloved he gave the basket.
To each son he pointed out the dangers incurred by
a misuse of his possession, and upon the youngest,
especially, he urged the necessity for labor and
frugality, as a means of developing a correct char-
acter. The young man listened respectfully to his
father's exhortation, and declared that, while he
would carefully heed it, he would also, by means of
his basket, win a princess in marriage.

After the old man's funeral, the youngest son went
away to the capital, sought out the portion of the
palace occupied by the emperor's beautiful daughter,
secured the attention of a handmaiden, and sent
word to the princess that he had gems of extraordi-
nary size and beauty which he wished to lay before
her eyes. The maid gave such a glowing account of
the jewels that the princess sent her out to bring
them to her, and was so pleased on beholding them
that she kept them all, with the basket that held
them, and returned to the owner a sum of money
which she thought a sufficient compensation for
them. As there was no witness to the transaction,



14 The Strayed Arrow.



the young man asked in vain for the return of his
basket, and was finally obliged to go away without
it, to avoid being arrested as a disturber of the im-
perial peace. His means of living being gone, he
begged his way over the long road homeward, told
his brothers what had happened, and besought them
to lend him the hat and cloak, that he might go back
and recover his lost treasure. After making many
objections against lending their goods to one who
had proved incapable of keeping his own, they
yielded to his arguments, and entrusted to him their
talismans, and he went again to the capital. There
he haunted the doors of the palace, awaiting oppor-
tunity to steal in and find his basket ; but he was
discovered at a moment when he had his hat on his
head instead of before his breast, and being recog-
nized as the man who had formerly been trouble-
some, he was seized, stripped, beaten, and driven
beyond the gates. Bruised, despairing, and ashamed
to return to his brothers, he wandered off to the
deep glens of the mountains. There he became
famished, and looked about for something to satisfy
his hunger. He perceived two clumps of banana
trees, with two bunches of fruit, the one bunch
yellow and ripe, the other bunch green and shrivelled.
He at once plucked and ate a ripe banana, but he



The Three Talismans. i 5



had no sooner done so than his head began to
ache, and, on putting up his hand, he felt a horn
growing from his forehead. The horn grew fast,
curled among the trees, and fastened him tightly
to the spot. The horror of the situation was
extreme, but did not prevent his becoming
hungry again ; so when he could no longer
endure starvation, he plucked and ate another ripe
banana, with the same consequence. He then had a
pair of long crooked horns, that he could neither
break off nor tear from his skull. Fearing to eat
more of fruit which produced such excrescences, he
suffered hunger as long as he could while fruit was
within reach, and then he plucked and ate one of the
green bananas. No sooner had he done this than one
horn began to dwindle, and then disappeared. He
then ate another green banana, and the other horn
also disappeared. Having recovered his natural con-
dition, he bethought himself that, by making use of
fruit having such qualities, he might perhaps regain
his lost goods. He thereupon took two of each sort,
returned to the palace disguised as an aged traveller,
and caused the princess to be informed that he had
come from genii-land with a peculiar fruit which
would give perpetual youth to whomsoever ate it.
The princess sent her handmaid to negotiate for the



1 6 The Strayed Arrow.



fruit, and the handmaid, thinking it would be well for
her to remain young along with her mistress, bought
the two yellow bananas, one of which she concealed
in her sleeve, while she carried the other to the
princess. The princess lost no time in devouring the
fruit, and, while she was thus engaged, the hand-
maiden swallowed hers on the way down stairs. A
long horn sprang instantly from the head of the
mistress and coiled among the posts of the divan on
which she sat. A similar horn issued from the head
of the maid and fastened her to the banisters of the
stairs she was descending. The screams of the two
brought the inmates of the palace about them, and,
in the confusion, the vender of the fruit escaped into
safe concealment.

The wearers of the horns were in sad plight. The
horns were as sensitive as boils and as hard as stones.
Renowned surgeons examined them and shrunk from
attempting their reduction or excision. When the
gods had been appealed to in vain, and when the
court-physicians had all failed to give hope of relief,
the emperor issued a proclamation, promising his
daughter in marriage to any one who would remove
the incubus from her head. Some time after the
setting forth of this proclamation, the young man, in
the guise of a physician, presented himself at the



The Three Talismans. 17



palace and was admitted to an audience with the
emperor. In the conversation which ensued, the
beauty, the refined manner, and the wisdom of the
young doctor so favorably impressed the emperor
that he made no objection to giving suitable vouchers
that, if the horns were removed from the head of the
afflicted princess and of her handmaiden, the pay-
ment therefor should be a legal marriage-contract
between the princess and her physician. The young
man then administered the green bananas and had
the pleasure of seeing the horns disappear from the
head of his bride and of her servant. The emperor
kept his promise, and the princess soon accompanied
her husband to his own home, carrying the basket,
the cloak, and the hat, which were in due time trans-
ferred to their respective owners. From that time
the family prospered, though the talismans gradually
decayed.

The teacher, having finished his narration, Grouse re-
marked that he did not think such talismans were nowadays
bestowed, however needfully entreated of the gods ; but one
would sometimes be greatly benefited by listening to other
people's prayers. For instance, a great-uncle of his was one
nightfall returning from town by a mountain path that led
past the shrine of a local deity, and stopped to rearrange his
bundles in a thicket beside the shrine. While there he over-
heard the response of the god to the petition of a tiger that



1 8 The Strayed Arrow.



had come to ask direction toward good prey. The god told
the tiger that in a certain hamlet a plump young woman
would at moonrise go out from her dwelling to draw water
from a well in her garden, and described the locality
minutely that the tiger might not fail to find it. The hearer
in the thicket identified in the description his own abode,
and so hastened home and kept his wife safely indoors, and
out of danger ! Golden Branch said he should rely on hard
work and prudence for success ; though he thought luck had
much to do with it, according with the old saying : " When
luck goes, gold turns into iron ; when luck comes, brass
turns into gold."

The teacher then called on the eldest of the boys for a
story, and this pupil responded, saying that he had at the
noon recess been into a shoe-shop, where a man who was
cutting out soles complained that ants infested his leather,
and then told about



THE ORIGIN OF ANTS.

A MAN had a wife who berated him because he
did not earn enough to support her and her boy.
She told him that, if he could not get work near
home, he might better go far away and stay there until
he could provide for his family. So he went abroad,
seeking employment, but he found nothing to do,
and was so homesick that he soon returned to his
native village. Fearing the taunts of his wife when
she should know that he had no money, he lingered
outside his house, and there he overheard a con-




A SHOE SHOP.
19



The Origin of Ants. 2 r



versation between her and her son, about what she
had that morning bought in the market. He heard
the cupboard-door open and shut, as she put away
the provisions ; and he thought he should much like
to dine with his family. After a while he took
courage and went in, but the only greeting he re-
ceived was an inquiry why he had come back so
soon. He replied that, while abroad, he had dis-
covered that he had a supernatural sense of smell,
and so thought that he would return and exercise
his gift among his friends. His wife scoffingly called
on him to at once give proof of his smelling powers
by telling her what there was to eat in the house.


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Online LibraryAdele Marion FieldeChinese nights' entertainment; → online text (page 1 of 9)