“A faithful minister does not serve two princes, and a virtuous woman never thinks of a second husband,” sententiously replied the lady. “If fate were to decree that you should die, it would not be a question of three years or of five years, for never, so long as life lasted, would I dream of a second marriage.”
“It is hard to say, it is hard to say,” replied Chwang.
“Do you think,” rejoined his wife, “that women are like men, desti-tute of virtue and devoid of justice? When one wife is dead you look out for another, you divorce this one and take that one; but we women are for one saddle to one horse. Why do you say these things to annoy me?”
With these words she seized the fan and tore it to shreds.
“Calm yourself,” said her husband; “I only hope, if occasion offers, you will act up to your protestations.”
Not many days after this Chwang fell dangerously ill, and as the symptoms increased in severity, he
“Your wrists are not strong enough for such work,” he said. “Let me relieve you at it.”
“By all means,” replied the lady briskly. “Here is the fan, and I shall owe you an everlasting debt of gratitude if you will fan it dry as quickly as possible.”
Without more ado, Chwang set to work, and by the exercise of his magical powers he extracted every drop of moisture from the grave with a few waves of the fan. The lady was delighted with his success, and with the sunniest smile said, “How can I thank you sufficiently for your kindness! As a small mark of my gratitude, let me present you with this embroidered fan which I had in reserve; and as a token of my esteem, I really must ask you to accept one of my silver hairpins.” With these words she presented the philosopher with the fan, and drawing out one of her ornamented hairpins, she offered it for his acceptance. The philosopher took the fan, but, possibly having the
A Fickle Widow (Anonymous: 15th Century A.D., or before)
A Fickle Widow, which also appeared originally in the Marvellous Tales, presents a striking contrast to The Story of Ming-Y. If the author was interested in pointing a moral, he was yet more interested in satirizing the frailties of human nature. It is impossible to tell whether there was a common source for this story and The Matron of Ephesus (the tale is retold by Anatole France), but in view of the lack of evidence it is reasonable to conclude that the Roman writer, like the Chinese, was inspired by a certain scepticism regarding the fidelity of the other sex.
This story is translated by R. K. Douglas, and appears in the vol-ume Chinese Stories, published in 1893 by William Blackwood & Sons, publishers, by whose permission and that of Mr. R. K. Douglas it is here reprinted.
A Fickle Widow (From Marvellous Tales, Ancient and Modern)
At a distance from the capital, and in the p