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The virtuous daughter-in-law (2)

"What sort of a person was the one you sent away ?" asked her sister in reply.

"She wasn't as bad as some one I know of," said Mrs. An, "though not so good as yours."

"When she was here you had but little to do," replied Mrs. Yu; "and when you were angry she took no notice of it. How was she not as good ?"

Mrs. An then burst into tears, and saying how sorry she was, asked if Shan-hu had married again; to which Mrs. Yu replied that she did not know, but would make inquiries. In a few more days the patient was quite well, and Mrs. Yu proposed to return; her sister, however, begged her to stay, and declared she should die if she didn't. Mrs. Yu then advised that Erh-cheng and his wife should live in a separate house, and Erh-cheng spoke about it to his wife; but she would not agree, and abused both Ta-cheng and Mrs. Yu alike. It ended by Ta-cheng giving up a large share of the property, and ultimately Tsang-ku consented, and a deed of separation was drawn up. Mrs. Yu then went away, returning next day with a sedan-chair to carry her sister back; and no sooner had the latter put her foot inside Mrs. Yu's door, than she asked to see the daughter-in-law, whom she immediately began to praise very highly. "Ah," said Mrs. Yu, "she's a good girl, with her little faults like the rest of us; but even if your daughter-in- law were as good as mine, you would not be able to appreciate her."

"Alas!" replied her sister, "I must have been as senseless as a statue not to have seen what she was."

"I wonder what Shan-hu, whom you turned out of doors, says of you?" rejoined Mrs. Yu.

"Why, she swears at me, of course," answered Mrs. An.

"If you examine yourself honestly and find nothing which should make people swear at you, is it at all likely you would be sworn at?" asked Mrs. Yu.

"Well, all people are fallible," replied the other, "and as I know she is not perfect, I conclude she would naturally swear at me."

"If a person has just cause for resentment, and yet does not indulge that resentment, it is obvious how he will repay kindness; or if any one has just cause for leaving another and yet does not do so, it is obvious how he will act under good treatment. Now, all the things that were sent when you were ill, and all the various little attentions, did not come from my daughter-in-law, but from yours."

Mrs. An was amazed at hearing this, and asked for some explanation; whereupon Mrs. Yu continued, "Shan-hu has been living here for a long time. Everything she sent to you was bought) with money earned by her spinning, and that, too, continued late into the night." Mrs. An here burst into tears, and begged to be allowed to see Shan-hu who came in at Mrs. Yu's summons, and threw herself on the ground at her mother-in-law's feet. Mrs. An was much abashed, and beat her head with shame; but Mrs. Yu made it all up between them, and they became mother and daughter as at first.

In about ten days they went home, and, as their property was not enough to support them, Ta-cheng had to work with his pen while his wife did the same with her needle. Erh-cheng was quite well off, but his brother would not apply to him, neither did he himself offer to help them. Tsang-ku, too, would have nothing to do with her sister-in-law, because she had been divorced; and Shan-hu in her turn, knowing what Tsang-ku's temper was, made no great efforts to be friendly. So the two brothers lived apart; and when Tsang-ku was in one of her outrageous moods, all the others would stop their ears, till at length there was only her husband and the servants upon whom to vent her spleen.

One day a maid-servant of hers committed suicide, and the father of the girl brought an action against Tsang-ku for having caused her death. Erh-cheng went off to the mandarin's to take her place as defendant, but only got a good beating for his pains, as the magistrate insisted that Tsang-ku herself should appear and answer to the charge, in spite of all her friends could do. The consequence was she had her fingers squeezed until the flesh was entirely taken off; and the magistrate, being a grasping man, a very severe fine was inflicted as well.

Erh-cheng had now to mortgage his property before he could raise enough money to get Tsang-ku released; but before long the mortgagee threatened to foreclose, and he was obliged to enter into negotiations for the sale of it to an old gentleman of the village named Jen. Now Mr. Jen, knowing that half the property had belong to Ta-cheng, said the deed of sale must be signed by the elder brother as well. However, when Ta-cheng reached his house, the old man cried out, "I am Mr. An, M.A.; who is this Jen that he should buy my property ?" Then, looking at Ta-cheng, he added, "The filial piety of you and your wife has obtained for me in the realms below this interview;" upon which Ta-cheng said, "0 father, since you have this power, help my younger brother."

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