Tzu-hsing gave a faint smile. "One and all，" he remarked， "entertain the same idea. Hence it is that his mother doats upon him like upon a precious jewel. On the day of his first birthday， Mr. Cheng readily entertained a wish to put the bent of his inclinations to the test， and placed before the child all kinds of things， without number， for him to grasp from. Contrary to every expectation， he scorned every other object， and， stretching forth his hand， he simply took hold of rouge， powder and a few hair-pins， with which he began to play. Mr. Cheng experienced at once displeasure， as he maintained that this youth would， by and bye， grow up into a sybarite， devoted to wine and women， and for this reason it is， that he soon began to feel not much attachment for him. But his grandmother is the one who， in spite of everything， prizes him like the breath of her own life. The very mention of what happened is even strange！ He is now grown up to be seven or eight years old， and， although exceptionally wilful， in intelligence and precocity， however， not one in a hundred could come up to him！ And as for the utterances of this child， they are no less remarkable. The bones and flesh of woman， he argues， are made of water， while those of man of mud. 'Women to my eyes are pure and pleasing，' he says， 'while at the sight of man， I readily feel how corrupt， foul and repelling they are！' Now tell me， are not these words ridiculous？ There can be no doubt whatever that he will by and bye turn out to be a licentious roue." comfortable strap on
Yue-ts'un， whose countenance suddenly assumed a stern air， promptly interrupted the conversation. "It doesn't quite follow，" he suggested. "You people don't， I reGREt to say， understand the destiny of this child. The fact is that even the old Hanlin scholar Mr. Cheng was erroneously looked upon as a loose rake and dissolute debauchee！ But unless a person， through much study of books and knowledge of letters， so increases （in lore） as to attain the talent of discerning the nature of things， and the vigour of mind to fathom the Taoist reason as well as to comprehend the first principle， he is not in a position to form any judgment."
Tzu-hsing upon perceiving the weighty import of what he propounded， "Please explain，" he asked hastily， "the drift （of your argument）。" To which Yue-ts'un responded： "Of the human beings created by the operation of heaven and earth， if we exclude those who are gifted with extreme benevolence and extreme viciousness， the rest， for the most part， present no striking diversity. If they be extremely benevolent， they fall in， at the time of their birth， with an era of propitious fortune； while those extremely vicious correspond， at the time of their existence， with an era of calamity. When those who coexist with propitious fortune come into life， the world is in order； when those who coexist with unpropitious fortune come into life， the world is in danger. Yao， Shun， Yue， Ch'eng T'ang， Wen Wang， Wu Wang， Chou Kung， Chao Kung， Confucius， Mencius， T'ung Hu， Han Hsin， Chou Tzu， Ch'eng Tzu， Chu Tzu and Chang Tzu were ordained to see light in an auspicious era. Whereas Ch'i Yu， Kung Kung， Chieh Wang， Chou Wang， Shih Huang， Wang Mang， Tsao Ts'ao， Wen Wen， An Hu-shan， Ch'in Kuei and others were one and all destined to come into the world during a calamitous age. Those endowed with extreme benevolence set the world in order； those possessed of extreme maliciousness turn the world into disorder. Purity， intelligence， spirituality and subtlety constitute the vital spirit of right which pervades heaven and earth， and the persons gifted with benevolence are its natural fruit. Malignity and perversity constitute the spirit of evil， which permeates heaven and earth， and malicious persons are affected by its influence. The days of perpetual happiness and eminent good fortune， and the era of perfect peace and tranquility， which now prevail， are the offspring of the pure， intelligent， divine and subtle spirit which ascends above， to the very Emperor， and below reaches the rustic and uncultured classes. Every one is without exception under its influence. The superfluity of the subtle spirit expands far and wide， and finding nowhere to betake itself to， becomes， in due course， transformed into dew， or gentle breeze； and， by a process of diffusion， it pervades the whole world. my first strapon
"the spirit of malignity and perversity， unable to expand under the brilliant sky and transmuting sun， eventually coagulates， pervades and stops up the deep gutters and extensive caverns； and when of a sudden the wind agitates it or it be impelled by the clouds， and any slight disposition， on its part， supervenes to set itself in motion， or to break its bounds， and so little as even the minutest fraction does unexpectedly find an outlet， and happens to come across any spirit of perception and subtlety which may be at the time passing by， the spirit of right does not yield to the spirit of evil， and the spirit of evil is again envious of the spirit of right， so that the two do not harmonize. Just like wind， water， thunder and lightning， which， when they meet in the bowels of the earth， must necessarily， as they are both to dissolve and are likewise unable to yield， clash and explode to the end that they may at length exhaust themselves. Hence it is that these spirits have also forcibly to diffuse themselves into the human race to find an outlet， so that they may then completely disperse， with the result that men and women are suddenly imbued with these spirits and spring into existence. At best， （these human beings） cannot be generated into philanthropists or perfect men； at worst， they cannot also embody extreme perversity or extreme wickedness. Yet placed among one million beings， the spirit of intelligence， refinement， perception and subtlety will be above these one million beings； while， on the other hand， the perverse， depraved and inhuman embodiment will likewise be below the million of men. Born in a noble and wealthy family， these men will be a salacious， lustful lot； born of literary， virtuous or poor parentage， they will turn out retired scholars or men of mark； though they may by some accident be born in a destitute and poverty-stricken home， they cannot possibly， in fact， ever sink so low as to become runners or menials， or contentedly brook to be of the common herd or to be driven and curbed like a horse in harness. They will become， for a certainty， either actors of note or courtesans of notoriety； as instanced in former years by Hsue Yu， T'ao Ch'ien， Yuan Chi， Chi Kang， Liu Ling， the two families of Wang and Hsieh， Ku Hu-t'ou， Ch'en Hou-chu， T'ang Ming-huang， Sung Hui-tsung， Liu T'ing-chih， Wen Fei-ching， Mei Nan-kung， Shih Man-ch'ing， Lui C'hih-ch'ing and Chin Shao-yu， and exemplified now-a-days by Ni Yuen-lin， T'ang Po-hu， Chu Chih-shan， and also by Li Kuei-men， Huang P'an-cho， Ching Hsin-mo， Cho Wen-chuen； and the women Hung Fu， Hsieh T'ao， Ch'ue Ying， Ch'ao Yuen and others； all of whom were and are of the same stamp， though placed in different scenes of action."
"From what you say，" observed Tzu-hsing， "success makes （a man） a duke or a marquis； ruin， a thief！"
"Quite so； that's just my idea！" replied Yue-ts'un； "I've not as yet let you know that after my degradation from office， I spent the last couple of years in travelling for pleasure all over each province， and that I also myself came across two extraordinary youths. This is why， when a short while back you alluded to this Pao-yue， I at once conjectured， with a good deal of certainty， that he must be a human being of the same stamp. There's no need for me to speak of any farther than the walled city of Chin Ling. This Mr. Chen was， by imperial appointment， named Principal of the Government Public College of the Chin Ling province. Do you perhaps know him？"
"Who doesn't know him？" remarked Tzu-hsing. "This Chen family is an old connection of the Chia family. These two families were on terms of GREat intimacy， and I myself likewise enjoyed the pleasure of their friendship for many a day." my first strap on
"Last year， when at Chin Ling，" Yue-ts'un continued with a smile， "some one recommended me as resident tutor to the school in the Chen mansion； and when I moved into it I saw for myself the state of things. Who would ever think that that household was grand and luxurious to such a deGREe！ But they are an affluent family， and withal full of propriety， so that a school like this was of course not one easy to obtain. The pupil， however， was， it is true， a young tyro， but far more troublesome to teach than a candidate for the examination of graduate of the second degree. Were I to enter into details， you would indeed have a laugh. 'I must needs，' he explained， 'have the company of two girls in my studies to enable me to read at all， and to keep likewise my brain clear. Otherwise， if left to myself， my head gets all in a muddle.' Time after time， he further expounded to his young attendants， how extremely honourable and extremely pure were the two words representing woman， that they are more valuable and precious than the auspicious animal， the felicitous bird， rare flowers and uncommon plants. 'You may not' （he was wont to say）， 'on any account heedlessly utter them， you set of foul mouths and filthy tongues！ these two words are of the utmost import！ Whenever you have occasion to allude to them， you must， before you can do so with impunity， take pure water and scented tea and rinse your mouths. In the event of any slip of the tongue， I shall at once have your teeth extracted， and your eyes gouged out.' His obstinacy and waywardness are， in every respect， out of the common. After he was allowed to leave school， and to return home， he became， at the sight of the young ladies， so tractable， gentle， sharp， and polite， transformed， in fact， like one of them. And though， for this reason， his father has punished him on more than one occasion， by giving him a sound thrashing， such as brought him to the verge of death， he cannot however change. Whenever he was being beaten， and could no more endure the pain， he was wont to promptly break forth in promiscuous loud shouts， 'Girls！ girls！' The young ladies， who heard him from the inner chambers， subsequently made fun of him. 'Why，' they said， 'when you are being thrashed， and you are in pain， your only thought is to bawl out girls！ Is it perchance that you expect us young ladies to go and intercede for you？ How is that you have no sense of shame？' To their taunts he gave a most plausible explanation. 'Once，' he replied， 'when in the agony of pain， I gave vent to shouting girls， in the hope， perchance， I did not then know， of its being able to alleviate the soreness. After I had， with this purpose， given one cry， I really felt the pain considerably better； and now that I have obtained this secret spell， I have recourse， at once， when I am in the height of anguish， to shouts of girls， one shout after another. Now what do you say to this？ Isn't this absurd， eh？"
"the grandmother is so infatuated by her extreme tenderness for this youth， that， time after time， she has， on her grandson's account， found fault with the tutor， and called her son to task， with the result that I resigned my post and took my leave. A youth， with a disposition such as his， cannot assuredly either perpetuate intact the estate of his father and grandfather， or follow the injunctions of teacher or advice of friends. The pity is， however， that there are， in that family， several excellent female cousins， the like of all of whom it would be difficult to discover."
"Quite so！" remarked Tzu-hsing； "there are now three young ladies in the Chia family who are simply perfection itself. The eldest is a daughter of Mr. Cheng， Yuan Ch'un by name， who， on account of her excellence， filial piety， talents， and virtue， has been selected as a governess in the palace. The second is the daughter of Mr. She's handmaid， and is called Ying Ch'un； the third is T'an Ch'un， the child of Mr. Cheng's handmaid； while the fourth is the uterine sister of Mr. Chen of the Ning Mansion. Her name is Hsi Ch'un. As dowager lady Shih is so fondly attached to her granddaughters， they come， for the most part， over to their grandmother's place to prosecute their studies together， and each one of these girls is， I hear， without a fault."