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Yuen, having conceived a violent hatred against an acquaintance, set out one morning, knife in hand, with the purpose of killing him. A venerable man sitting in a convent saw him pass, and was amazed to observe several scores of spirits closely following him, some of whom clutched his weapon, while others seemed endeavoring to delay his progress. About the space of a meal-time the patriarch noticed Yuen's return, accompanied this time by more than a hundred spirits wearing golden caps and bearing banners raised on high. Yuen himself appeared with so happy a face, in place of his gloomy countenance of the early morning, that the old man sadly concluded that his enemy must be dead and his revenge gratified.

"When you passed this way at daybreak," he asked, "where were you going, and why do you return so soon?"

"It was owing to my quarrel with Miu,"

{p. 93}

said Yuen, "that made me wish to kill him. But in passing this convent door better thoughts came to me as I pondered upon the distress his wife and children would come to, and of his aged mother, none of whom had done me wrong. I determined then not to kill him, and return thus promptly from my evil Purpose."

It hardly needed the sage's commendations to increase the reformed murderer's inner contentment, imparted by the train of ghostly helpers; he continued on his way rejoicing.

[This story, reproduced from Williams' Middle Kingdom, is not contained in the moral tales annexed to the Kan-Ying P'ien but is taken from a similar collection following the Sacred Edict of Kang-Hi. Its insertion here is justified since it illustrates a quotation from the Kan-Ying P'ien (1184-1188) which is almost literal and is inscribed in a corner of the picture.]

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