This Lin Ju-hai’s family name was Lin, his name Hai and his style Ju-hai. He had obtained the third place in the previous triennial examination, and had, by this time, already risen to the rank of Director of the Court of Censors.
He was a native of Kú Su. He had been recently named by Imperial appointment a Censor attached to the Salt Inspectorate, and had arrived at his post only a short while back.
The only misfortune had been that the several branches of the Lin family had not been prolific, so that the numbers of its members continued limited;
and though there existed several households, they were all however to Ju-hai no closer relatives than first cousins.
Neither were there any connections of the same lineage, or of the same parentage.
Ju-hai was at this date past forty; and had only had a son,
“Brother stone,” he forthwith said, addressing the stone, “the concerns of past days recorded on you possess, according to your own account, a considerable amount of interest, and have been for this
reason inscribed, with the intent of soliciting generations to hand them down as remarkable occurrences. But in my own opinion, they lack, in the first place, any data by means of which to establish the name
of the Emperor and the year of his reign; and, in the second place, these constitute no record of any excellent policy, adopted by any high worthies or high loyal statesmen, in the government of the state,
or in the rule of public morals. The contents simply treat of a certain number of maidens, of exceptional character; either of their
love affairs or infatuations, or of their small deserts or insignificant talents; and were I to transcribe the whole collection of them,
they would, nevertheless, not be estimated as a book of any exceptional worth.”
“Sir Priest,” the stone replied with assurance, “why are you so excessively dull? The dynasties recorded in the rustic histories, which have been written from age to age, have, I am fain to think, invariably
are but a counterpart of each other. What is more, these works, throughout all their pages, cannot help bordering on extreme licence. The authors, however, had no other object in view
than to give utterance to a few sentimental odes and elegant ballads of their own, and for this reason they have fictitiously
of your society.” “My dear Sir,” answered Yü-ts’un, as he got up, also in a conceding way, “suit your own convenience. I’ve often had the honour of being
your guest, and what will it matter if I wait a little?” While these apologies were yet being spoken, Shih-yin had already walked out into the front parlour. During his
absence, Yü-ts’un occupied himself in turning over the pages of some poetical work to dispel ennui, when suddenly he heard, outside the window, a woman’s
cough. Yü-ts’un hurriedly got up and looked out. He saw at a glance that it was a servant girl engaged in picking flowers. Her deportment was out of the common;
her eyes so bright, her eyebrows so well defined. Though not a perfect beauty, she possessed nevertheless charms sufficient to arouse the feelings. Yü-ts’un
unwittingly gazed at her with fixed eye. This waiting-maid, belonging to the Chen family, had done picking flowers, and was on the point of going in, when she of a sudden raised her eyes and became aware of the presence of some person
inside the window, whose head-gear consisted of a turban in tatters, while his clothes were the worse for wear. But in spite of his poverty, he was naturally
As she indulged in this train of thought, she could not restrain herself from turning her head round once or twice.
When Yü-ts’un perceived that she had looked back, he readily interpreted it as a sign that in her heart her thoughts had been of him, and he was frantic with irrepressible joy.
“This girl,” he mused, “is, no doubt, keen-eyed and eminently shrewd, and one in this world who has seen through me.”
The servant youth, after a short time, came into the room; and when Yü-ts’un made inquiries and found
“in days to come you’ll certainly understand everything.” Having concluded these words, he forthwith put the stone in his sleeve, and proceeded leisurely on his journey, in company with the Taoist priest. Whither,
however, he took the stone, is not divulged. Nor can it be known how many centuries and ages elapsed, before a Taoist priest, K’ung K’ung by name, passed, during his researches after the eternal reason and
his quest after immortality, by these Ta Huang Hills, Wu Ch’i cave and Ch’ing Keng Peak. Suddenly perceiving a large block of stone, on the surface of which the traces of characters giving, in a connected form,
speeches and enigmas was still complete; but the name of the dynasty and the year of the reign were obliterated, and could not be ascertained.
On the obverse, were also the following enigmatical verses:
Lacking in virtues meet the azure skies to mend,
In vain the mortal world full many a year I wend,
Of a former and after life these facts that be,
Who will for a tradition strange record for me?
The fact is that after Yü-ts’un had been presented with the money by Shih-yin,
he promptly started on the 16th day for the capital, and at the triennial great tripos,
his wishes were gratified to the full. Having successfully carried off his degree of graduate of the third rank,
his name was put by selection on the list for provincial
appointments. By this time, he had been raised to the rank of Magistrate in this district; but, in spite of the excellence and sufficiency of his accomplishments and
abilities, he could not escape being ambitious and overbearing. He failed besides, confident as he was in his own merits,
in respect toward his superiors, with the result that these officials looked upon him scornfully with the corner of the eye.
The Dragon countenance of the Emperor was considerably incensed. His Majesty lost no time in issuing commands,
in reply to the Memorial, that he should be deprived of his official status.
On the arrival of the despatch from the Board, great was the joy felt by every officer, without exception, of the prefecture in which he had held office. Yü-ts’un,
though at heart intensely mortified and incensed, betrayed not the least outward symptom of annoyance, but still preserved, as of old, a smiling and cheerful countenance.
He handed over charge of all official business and removed the savings which he had accumulated during the several years he had been in office,
The Empress Nü Wo, (the goddess of works,) in fashioning blocks of stones, for the repair of the heavens, prepared,
at the Ta Huang Hills and Wu Ch’i cave, 36,501 blocks of rough stone, each twelve chang in height, and twenty-four
chang square. Of these stones, the Empress Wo only
used 36,500; so that one single block remained over and above, without being turned to any account. This was cast down
the Ch’ing Keng peak. This stone, strange to say, after having undergone a process of refinement, attained a nature of
efficiency, and could, by its innate powers, set itself into motion and was able to expand and to contract.
“Your appearance,” he said laughingly, “may well declare you to be a supernatural object, but as you lack any inherent quality it is necessary
to inscribe a few characters on you, so that every one who shall see you may at once recognise you to be a remarkable
thing. And subsequently, when you will be taken into a country where honour and affluence will reign,
into a family cultured in mind and of
The next day, at an early hour, Yü-ts’un sent some of his men to bring over to Chen’s wife presents, consisting of two packets of silver, and four pieces of brocaded silk, as a token of gratitude, and to Feng Su also a confidential letter, requesting him to ask of Mrs. Chen her maid Chiao Hsing to become his second wife.
Who would ever have foreseen that fate and fortune would both have so favoured her that she should, contrary to all anticipation, give birth to a son, after living with Yü-ts’un barely a year, that in addition to this,
This is the opening section; this the
first chapter. Subsequent to the visions of a dream which he had, on some previous occasion, experienced, the writer personally relates, he designedly concealed the
true circumstances, and borrowed the
attributes of perception and spirituality to relate this story of the Record of the Stone. With this purpose, he made use
of such designations as Chen Shih-yin (truth under the garb of fiction) and the like. What are, however, the events recorded in this work? Who are the dramatis personae?
On this very day it was that I became desirous to compile, in a connected form, for publication throughout the world, with a view to (universal) information, how that I bear inexorable and manifold retribution; inasmuch as what time, by the sustenance of the benevolence of Heaven,
and the virtue of my ancestors, my apparel was rich and fine, and as what days my fare was savory and sumptuous, I disregarded the bounty of education and
nurture of father and mother, and paid no heed to the virtue of precept and injunction of teachers and friends,
with the result that I incurred the punishment, of failure recently in the least trifle, and the reckless waste of half my lifetime. There have been meanwhile, generation
after generation, those in the inner
chambers, the whole mass of whom could not, on any account, be, through my influence, allowed to fall into extinction, in order that I, unfilial as I have been, may have the means to screen my own shortcomings.
Hence it is that the thatched shed, with bamboo mat windows, the bed of tow and the stove of brick, which are at present my share,
are not sufficient to deter me from carrying out the fixed purpose of my mind. And could I, furthermore, confront the morning breeze, the evening moon,
This consideration has led to the usage of such names as Chia Yü-ts’un and other similar appellations.
More than any in these pages have been
employed such words as dreams and visions;
To continue. Feng Su, upon hearing the shouts of the public messengers, came out in a flurry and forcing a smile, he asked them to explain (their errand); but all these people did was to continue bawling out: “Be quick, and ask Mr. Chen to come out.”
Waste lie their graves, a heap of grass, extinct.
All men spiritual life know to be good,
But to forget gold, silver, ill succeed!
Through life they grudge their hoardings to be scant,
And when plenty has come, their eyelids close.
All men spiritual life hold to be good,
Yet to forget wives, maids, they ne’er succeed!
Who speak of grateful love while lives their lord,
And dead their lord, another they pursue.
All men spiritual life know to be good,
But sons and grandsons to forget never succeed!
From old till now of parents soft many,
But filial sons and grandsons who have seen?
Shih-yin upon hearing these words, hastily came up to the priest, “What were you so glibly holding forth?” he inquired. “All I could hear were a lot of hao liao (excellent, finality.”)
“You may well have heard the two words ‘hao liao,’” answered the Taoist with a smile, “but can you be said to have fathomed their meaning? You should know that all things in this world are excellent, when they have attained finality; when they have attained finality, they are excellent; but when they have not attained finality, they are not excellent; if they would be excellent, they should attain finality. My song is entitled Excellent-finality (hao liao).”
Shih-yin was gifted with a natural perspicacity that enabled him, as soon as he heard these remarks, to grasp their spirit.
“Wait a while,” he therefore said smilingly; “let me unravel this excellent-finality song of yours; do you mind?”
“Please by all means go on with the interpretation,” urged the Taoist; whereupon Shih-yin proceeded in this strain:
Sordid rooms and vacant courts,