The Lost Brother (2)
The wound, however, was over an inch deep, and blood was
flowing so copiously that Na became faint, and seemed at the
point of death. They then tore up their clothes, and, after having
bandaged his neck, proceeded to carry him home. His stepmother cried bitterly, and cursed him, saying, "You have killed
my son, and now you go and cut your neck in this make-believe
kind of way."
"Don't be angry, mother," replied Na; "I will not live
now that my brother is dead." He then threw himself on the
bed; but the pain of his wound was so great he could not
sleep, and day and night he sat leaning against the wall in
tears. His father, fearing that he too would die, went every now and then and gave him
a little nourishment; but his wife cursed him so for doing it, that
at length Na refused all food, and in three days he died.
Now in the village where these events took place there was a
magician who was employed in certain devil-work among mortals,' and Na's ghost, happening to fall in with him, related the
story of its previous sorrows, winding up by asking where his
brother's ghost was. The magician said he didn't know, but
turned round with Na and showed him the way to a city where
they saw an official servant coming out of the city gates. The
magician stopped him, and inquired if he could tell them anything about Cheng; whereupon the man drew out a list from a
pouch at his side, and, after carefully examining it, replied that
among the male and female criminals within there was no one of
the name of Chang." The magician here suggested that the name
might be on another list; but the man replied that he was in
charge of that road, and surely ought to know.
Na, however, was not satisfied, and persuaded the magician to
enter the city, where they met many new and old devils walking
about, among whom were some Na had formerly known in life.
So he asked them if they could direct him to his brother; but none
of them knew where he was; and suddenly there was a great commotion, the devils on all sides crying out, "Pu-sa' has come!"
Then, looking up, Na beheld a most beautiful man descending
from above, encircled by rays of glory, which shot forth above and
below, lighting up all around him. "You are in luck's way, Sir,"
said the magician to Na; "only once in many thousand years does
Pu-sa descend into hell and banish all suffering. He has come today.
He then made Na kneel, and all the devils began with clasped
hands to sing songs of praise to Pu-sa for his compassion in re-
leasing them from their misery, shaking the very earth with the
sound. Pu-sa himself, seizing a willow-branch, sprinkled them all with holy
water; and when this was done the clouds and glory melted
away, and he vanished from their sight. Na, who had felt the
holy water fall upon his neck, now became conscious that the
axe-wound was no longer painful; and the magician then proceeded to lead him back, not quitting him until within sight of the
In fact, Na had been in a trance for two days, and when he recovered he told them all that he had seen, asserting positively that
Cheng was not dead. His mother, however, looked upon the
story as a make-up, and never ceased reviling him; and, as he had
no means of proving his innocence, and his neck was now quite
healed, he got up from the bed and said to his father, "I am
going away to seek for my brother throughout the universe; if I
do not find him, never expect to see me again, but I pray you
regard me as dead." His father drew him aside and wept bitterly.
However, he would not interfere with his son's design, and Na
accordingly set off.
Whenever he came to a large town or populous place he used to
ask for news of Cheng; and by-and-by, when his money was all
spent, he begged his way on foot. A year had passed away before
he reached Nanking, and his clothes were all in tatters -- as
ragged as a quail's tail, when suddenly he met some ten or a
dozen horsemen, and drew away to the roadside.
Among them was a gentleman of about forty, who appeared to
be a mandarin, with numerous lusty attendants and fiery steeds
accompanying him before and behind. One young man on a small
palfrey, whom Na took to be the mandarin's son, and at whom,
of course, he did not venture to stare, eyed him closely for some
time, and at length stopped his steed, and, jumping off, cried
out, "Are you not my brother ?" Na then raised his head, and
found that Cheng stood before him. Grasping each other's hands,
the brothers burst into tears, and at length Cheng said, "My
brother, how is it you have strayed so far as this?" Na told him
the circumstances, at which he was much affected; and Cheng's
companions, jumping off their horses to see what was the matter,
went off and informed the mandarin. The latter ordered one of
them to give up his horse to Na, and thus they rode together back
to the mandarin's house.