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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 peaceful retirement of the country there dwelt many centuries ago a philosopher named Chwang, who led a pleasurable existence in the society of his third wife, and in the study of the doctrines of his great master, Lao-tsze.

Like many philosophers, Chwang had not been fortunate in his early married life. His first wife died young; his second he found it necessary to divorce, on account of misconduct; but in the companionship of the Lady T’ien he enjoyed a degree of happiness which had previously been denied him. Being a philosopher, however, he found it essential to his peace that he should occasionally exchange his domestic surroundings for the hillsides and mountain solitudes. On one such expedition he came unexpectedly on a newly made grave at the side of which was seated a young woman dressed in mourning, who was gently fanning the new mound. So strange a circumstance was evidently one into which a philosopher should inquire. He therefore approached the lady, and in gentle accents said, “May I ask what you are doing?”

A Fickle Widow part 8

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“Many thanks, madam,” said Chwang, “for your deep conside- ation. But may I ask why you are dressed in such gay clothing.” “When I went to open your coffin, I had, as I say,...

A Fickle Widow part 7

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The Lady T`ien, frantic with grief, embraced him, rubbed his chest, and when these remedies failed to revive him, called in his old servant.“Has your master ever had any fits like this before?” she...

A Fickle Widow part 6

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“First,” answered the man, “my master says that the presence of the coffin in the saloon makes it difficult to conduct marriage festivities in accordance with usage; secondly, that the illustrious Chwang having so...

A Fickle Widow part 5

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“My master,” replied the servant, “has never yet been married.”“What qualities does he look for in the fortunate woman he will choose for his wife?” inquired the lady.“My master says,” replied the servant, who...

A Fickle Widow part 4

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“Some years ago I communicated to Chwang my desire to become his disciple. In furtherance of this purpose I came hither, and now, to my inexpressible regret, I find on my arrival that my...

A Fickle Widow part 3

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“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...

A Fickle Widow part 2

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“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...

A Fickle Widow part 1

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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...

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