“You have had the good fortune of starting in life as a graduate

“You have had the good fortune of starting in life as a graduate,” explained Tzu-tsing as he smiled, “and yet are not aware of the saying uttered by some one of

old: that a centipede even when dead does not lie stiff. (These families) may, according to your version, not be up to the prosperity of former years, but,

compared with the family of an ordinary official, their condition anyhow presents a difference. Of late the number of the inmates has, day by day, been on the

increase; their affairs have become daily more numerous; of masters and servants, high and low, who live in ease and respectability very many there are;

but of those who exercise any forethought, or make any provision, there is not even one. In their daily wants, their extravagances, and their expenditure, they

are also unable to adapt themselves to circumstances and practise economy; (so that though) the present external framework may not have suffered any

considerable collapse, their purses have anyhow begun to feel an exhausting process! But this is a mere trifle. There is another more serious matter. Would any

one ever believe that in such families of official status, in a clan of education and culture, the sons and grandsons of the present age would after all be each (succeeding) generation below the standard of the former?”

Yü-ts’un, having listened to these remarks, observed: “How ever can it be possible that families of such education and refinement can observe any system

of training and nurture which is not excellent? Concerning the other branches, I am not in a position to say anything; but restricting myself to the two mansions of

Jung and Ning, they are those in which, above all others, the education of their children is methodical.”

“I was just now alluding to none other than these two establishments,” Tzu-hsing observed with a sigh; “but let me tell you all. In days of yore, the duke of Ning Kuo

and the duke of Jung Kuo were two uterine brothers. The Ning duke was the elder; he had four sons. After the death of the duke of Ning Kuo, his eldest son,

Chia Tai-hua, came into the title. He also had two sons; but the eldest, whose name was Hu, died at the age of eight or nine; and the only survivor, the second

son, Chia Ching, inherited the title. His whole mind is at this time set upon Taoist doctrines; his sole delight is to burn the pill and refine the dual powers; while

every other thought finds no place in his mind. Happily, he had, at an early age, left a son, Chia Chen, behind in the lay world, and his father, engrossed as his

whole heart was with the idea of attaining spiritual life,

ceded the succession of the official title to him. His parent is,

besides, not willing to return to the original family seat,

but lives outside the walls

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It is indeed ridiculous,” interposed the Taoist

“It is indeed ridiculous,” interposed the Taoist. “Never before have I heard even the very mention of restitution by means of tears! Why should not you and I avail

 

ourselves of this opportunity to likewise go down into the world? and if successful in effecting the salvation of a few of them, will it not be a work meritorious and virtuous?”

“This proposal,” remarked the Buddhist, “is quite in harmony with my own views. Come along then with me to the palace of the Monitory Vision Fairy, and let us

deliver up this good-for-nothing object, and have done with it! And when the company of pleasure-bound spirits of wrath descend into human existence,

you and I can then enter the world. Half of them have already fallen into the dusty universe, but the whole number of them have not, as yet, come together.”

“Such being the case,” the Taoist acquiesced, “I am ready to follow you, whenever you please to go.”

But to return to Chen Shih-yin. Having heard every one of these words distinctly, he could not refrain from forthwith stepping forward and paying homage.

“My spiritual lords,” he said, as he smiled, “accept my obeisance.” The Buddhist and Taoist priests lost no time in responding to the compliment,

and they exchanged the usual salutations. “My spiritual lords,” Shih-yin continued; “I have just heard the conversation that passed between you,

on causes and effects, a conversation the like of which few mortals have forsooth listened to; but your younger brother is sluggish of intellect,

and cannot lucidly fathom the import! Yet could this dulness and simplicity be graciously dispelled, your younger brother may, by listening minutely,

with undefiled ear and careful attention,

to a certain degree be aroused to a sense of understanding;

and what is more, possibly find the means of escaping the anguish

of sinking down into Hades.”

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