聶小倩 Pretty Girl and Lonely Soul
Ning Caichen of Zhejiang Province was straightforward and well-behaved. He often said
to others,“I’ll never have a second woman in my whole life.”
One day, going to Jinhua City, he had a rest in a temple in the northern suburb.
The buildingswere grand but the wormwood rose up to one’s head. The place seemed
desolate and uninhabited.
But when drawing near, he found two monk’s houses, one in east side, the other west
side, the doorsclosed but unlocked. And still there was another one in south side, though
small, yet the door latch wasstrong as a new one. Looking at the eastern corner to the main
building, Ning found, at the foot of the steps,some bamboo and a large pond with wild lotus
Ning was quite satisfied with the tranquility. Moreover the rental in downtown was
much higher thanever before because the term examination was drawing near. The relative
officials and many scholars hadalready come and the houses in town thus became more
insufficient than usual. After having considered all these, he decided to stay here and had a
walk in the courtyard waiting for the monk to come back.
At dusk a scholar came and opened the door of the house in south side. Ning stepped
up politely andtold his intention to the man.
“No landlord here. I stay here just temporarily too,” said the scholar. “If you don’t care
about the desolation,just stay here. It’s my honor to be your neighbor and maybe I will turn
to you for help.”
Ning was very happy and used wormwood in place of a bed and put up a board as a table.
By doing so,he decided to stay long.
A bright moon in the night sky with the silver light as clear as water, the two men exchanged
nameswhile having a hear-to-heart talk in the veranda.
“My family name is Yan, another name is Chixia,” said the scholar.
Ning doubted that he was maybe a candidate who was to go and sit in the examination.
Judging from his accent, Ning felt that he seemed to come far away.
“I’m not a local resident.” What Yan said was quite sincere and honest. Yet with every
minute passing so rapidly, they could only looked at each other and found no more to say, so
they bid farewell in a respectful manner and went to bed respectively..
Staying in a new place, Ning could not fall asleep until very late. Hearing some people whisper
in north of the house, he thought there should be a family. He got up and went to the northern
wall bending over the stone window and peeping through. Outside the short wall there existed a
little compound in which there were two ladies. One was over forty; the other was very old and in
a faded red silk blouse and with a large silver comb in her hair. Hunchbacked she was old and
shaky and spoke accidentally under the moon.
“Why was Xiaoqian so late?” said the middle-aged woman.
“She will come whenever she is ready,” said the old lady.
“Did she complaint to you?” asked the middle-aged.
“I’ve never heard, but she seems to be gloomy all the time.”
“That kind of girls! It’s quite enough just to be acquainted with them but not advisable to
be good to them.
” Said the middle aged.
An extremely beautiful girl of seventeen or eighteen arrived before their conversation had
“Backbite is no good,” said the old lady smilingly. “We’re just talking about you, and you girl
are coming quietly without any sound. As luck would have it, we didn’t say anything unpleasant
” She said continuously, “You pretty girl is really a beauty in painting. Even I myself would be
infatuated with you if I were a man.”
“Without your praise, grandmother, who would speak well of me?” said the girl.
There was then a conversation between the middle-aged and the young girl, but the meaning
was not understandable. Considering it was just a conversation among his neighbors, Ning went
back to go to sleep
without listening anymore.
At the beginning it was quiet without any sound. Yet he felt someone had come in just at the
moment when he nearly felt asleep. Getting up hurriedly and scrutinizing, he found that it was just
the girl of the northern courtyard. Taken by surprise he asked the reason of her arrival.
“I can’t fall asleep in this moon night,” said the girl. “I come to tell you that I’d like to marry you.”
“You should take precautions against backbite of others. And gossip is horrible to me,” said Ning
“Just one single false step may cause demoralization and beget an eternal sorrow.”
“No one knows at night,” the girl said.
Ning rebuked her again. Showing embarrassment, she seemed to have something more to say.
“Leave right away!” Upbraided he. “Or I’ll call the man in the southern house.”
Much scared, the girl left. Yet she came back again from outside and left a lump of gold on his bed.
Picking up the gold and throwing it onto the outside step, Ning said, “Ill-gotten wealth will dirty my
Quite shamed, the girl went out and picked up the gold, muttering to herself, “This man is really