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Strange Tales from Liaozhai--Volume 3 by Pu SongLing

Strange Tales from Liaozhai--Volume 3 by Pu SongLing

Author:Pu SongLing
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Jain Publishing Company
Published: 2009-08-05T16:00:00+00:00


206. Peng Haiqiu

A zhusheng from Laizhou, named Peng Haogu, was studying far from home. By the time of the Mid-Autumn Festival, he hadn’t returned home, so he was lonely. He felt that no one in the village was really qualified to converse with him except for scholar Qiu, the town’s literary celebrity, who also had a penchant for immoral conduct which led Peng to despise him. As the moon ascended into the sky, Peng’s boredom multiplied till he just couldn’t stand it, so he sent an invitation to Qiu to come over.

After the two scholars had been drinking for a bit, there came a tapping at the door. A boy servant went from Peng’s study to answer the door, where he found a scholar who had just come to visit the building’s resident. Peng left his seat, respectfully inviting his guest to enter. They bowed to each other, then took their seats while Peng began inquiring about the guest’s family and hometown.

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Zhusheng: A successful candidate in the lowest level of the imperial civil service examination.

Laizhou: The name of a prefecture during the Ming and Qing dynasties, part of modern Ye county, Shandong province (Zhu 2:700n1).

Mid-Autumn Festival: Celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. This is also the birthday of the Great Yin (the moon), the day when the moon is supposedly its brightest (Palmer et al. 209).

Peng’s unknown guest said, “I’m from Guangling, and we share the same surname, though my courtesy name is Haiqiu. On the occasion of this pleasant night, I was quite bored at the inn. When I heard about your refinement, I had to see you for myself, even without the courtesy of first being introduced.”

When Peng Haogu looked at him more closely, he noticed that Haiqiu kept his scholarly gown clean and neat, while their laughter and conversation proved tasteful and erudite. Peng Haogu became very happy and declared, “So you belong to my clan. What a night it is tonight, to have such a nice guest here!”

Haogu called for more wine to be poured, entertaining Peng Haiqiu like they were old acquaintances. As he scrutinized Haiqiu’s reactions, he noted that his visitor seemed to despise scholar Qiu quite seriously, for whenever Qiu tried to speak to him respectfully, he was answered impolitely by Peng Haiqiu. Peng Haogu felt ashamed of scholar Qiu and wanted to interrupt their conversation, so he invited them to sing a folksong, urging them to have more to drink.

Then, looking up into the sky with a cough, Haogu sang the “Song of the Protector Spirit of Fufeng.” They laughed together heartily afterwards. “I can’t carry a tune,” said Haiqiu, “so I won’t be able to respond with another beautiful song. Can’t I invite some lady to sing in my place?”

“Please go ahead,” replied Haogu.

Haiqiu asked him, “Are there any well-known female performers in the area?”

“None,” replied Haogu.

Haiqiu was quiet for a good long while, then he told the boy servant who was with them in the study, “Go call for the person who’s waiting outside the door, and then you can usher her in here.



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