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Saying this, she lay herself down.
Pao-yu however began again to exercise his mind with further surmises.
“If I say,” he cogitated, “that there can’t be one, there seems from all appearances to be one. And if I say that there is one, I haven’t, on the other hand, seen him with my own eyes.”
Sad and dejected he returned therefore to his quarters, and reclining on his couch, he silently communed with his own thoughts until he unconsciously became drowsy and fell fast asleep.
Finding himself (in his dream) in some garden or other, Pao-yu was seized with astonishment. “Besides our own garden of Broad Vista,” he reflected, “is there another such garden?” But while indulging in these speculations, several girls, all of whom were waiting-maids, suddenly made their appearance from the opposite direction. Pao-yu was again filled with surprise. “Besides Yuan Yang, Hsi Jen and P’ing Erh,” he pondered, “are there verily such maidens as these?”
“Pao-yu!” he heard that company of maids observe, with faces beaming with smiles, “how is it you find yourself in here?”
Pao-yu laboured under the impression that they were addressing him. With hasty step, he consequently drew near them, and returned their smiles.
“I got here,” he answered, “quite listlessly. What old family friend’s garden is this, I wonder? But sisters, pray, take me for a stroll.”
The maids smiled with one consent. “Really!” they exclaimed, “this isn’t our Pao-yu. But his looks too are spruce and nice; and he is as precocious too with his tongue.”
Pao-yu caught their remarks. “Sisters!” he eagerly cried, “is there actually a second Pao-yu in here?”
“As for the two characters ‘Pao-yu,'” the maids speedily explained, “every one in our house has received our old mistress’ and our mistress’
injunctions to use them as a spell to protract his life for many years and remove misfortune from his path, and when we call him by that name, he simply goes into ecstasies, at the very mention of it. But you, young brat, from what distant parts of the world do you hail that you’ve recklessly been also dubbed by the same name? But beware lest we pound that frowzy flesh of yours into mincemeat.”
“Let’s be off at once!” urged another maid, as she smiled. “Don’t let our Pao-yu see us here and say again that by hobn.o.bbing with this stinking young fellow, we’ve been contaminated by all his pollution.”
With these words on her lips, they straightway walked off.
Pao-yu fell into a brown study. “There’s never been,” he mused, “any one to treat me with such disdain before! But what is it, in fact, that induces them to behave towards me in this manner? May it not be true that there lives another human being the very image of myself?”
While lost in reverie, he advanced with heedless step, until he reached a courtyard. Pao-yu was struck with wonder. “Is there actually,” he cried, “besides the I Hung court another court like it?” Spontaneously then ascending the steps, he entered an apartment, in which he discerned some one reclining on a couch. On the off side sat several girls, busy at needlework; now laughing joyfully; now practising their jokes; when he overheard the young person on the couch heave a sigh.
“Pao-yu,” smilingly inquired a maid, “what, aren’t you asleep? What are you once more sighing for? I presume it’s because your sister is ill that you abandon yourself again to idle fears and immoderate anguish!”
These words fell on Pao-yu’s ears, and took him quite aback.
“I’ve heard grandmother say,” he overheard the young person on the couch observe, “that there lives at Ch’ang An, the capital, another Pao-yu endowed with the same disposition as myself. I never believed what she told me; but I just had a dream, and in this dream I found myself in a garden of the metropolis where I came across several maidens; all of whom called me a ‘stinking young brat,’ and would have nothing whatever to do with me. But after much difficulty, I succeeded in penetrating into his room. He happened to be fast asleep. There he lay like a mere bag of bones. His real faculties had flown somewhere or other; whither it was hard for me to say.”
Hearing this, “I’ve come here,” Pao-yu said with alacrity, “in search of Pao-yu; and are you, indeed, that Pao-yu?”
The young man on the couch jumped down with all haste and enfolded him in his arms. “Are you verily Pao-yu?” he laughingly asked. “This isn’t by any means such stuff as dreams are made of!”
“How can you call this a dream?” Pao-yu rejoined. “It’s reality, yea, nothing but reality!”
But scarcely was this rejoinder over, than he heard some one come, and say: “our master, your father, wishes to see you, Pao-yu.”
The two lads started with fear. One Pao-yu rushed off with all despatch.
The other promptly began to shout, “Pao-yu! come back at once! Pao-yu; be quick and return!”
Hsi Jen, who stood by (Pao-yu), heard him call out his own name, in his dreams, and immediately gave him a push and woke him up. “Where is Pao-yu gone to?” she laughed.
Although Pao-yu was by this time aroused from sleep, his senses were as yet dull, so pointing towards the door, “He’s just gone out,” he replied, “he’s not far off.”
Hsi Jen laughed. “You’re under the delusion of a dream,” she said. “Rub your eyes and look carefully! It’s your reflection in the mirror.”
Pao-yu cast a glance in front of him, and actually caught sight of the large inlaid mirror, facing him quite opposite, so he himself burst out laughing. But, presently, a maid handed him a rince-bouche and tea and salt, and he washed his mouth.
“Little wonder is it,” She Yueh ventured, “if our old mistress has repeatedly enjoined that it isn’t good to have too many mirrors about in young people’s rooms, for as the spirit of young persons is not fully developed there is every fear, with mirrors casting their reflections all over the place, of their having wild dreams in their sleep. And is a bed now placed before that huge mirror there? When the covers of the mirrors are let down, no harm can befall; but as the season advances, and the weather gets hot, one feels so languid and tired, that is one likely to think of dropping them? Just as it happened a little time back; it slipped entirely from your memory. Of course, when he first got into bed, he must have played with his face towards the gla.s.s; but upon shortly closing his eyes, he must naturally have fallen into such confused dreams, that they thoroughly upset his rest. Otherwise, how is it possible that he should have started shouting his own name? Would it not be as well if the bed were moved inside to-morrow? That’s the proper place for it.”
Hardly had she, however, done, before they perceived a servant, sent by Madame w.a.n.g to call Pao-yu. But what she wanted to tell him is not yet known, so, reader, listen to the circ.u.mstances recorded in the subsequent chapter.
END OF BOOK II.
[transcriber’s note: The second volume of this translation ends thus, and no more of it was ever published.]
[original book lists no errata; these were found during Project Gutenberg proofreading. The format is imitated from the list actually appearing at the end of volume I. If a word is split across a line or page then the line or page given is that on which the erroneous part of the word appears.
On several occasions the book uses nested double quotes. One person, speaking, quotes another person, speaking. “This example,” the proofreader said, “is of when my friend told me, “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” So I have always been careful.” When these were found, the inner quotes were changed to single quotes for increased clarity. Such changes are not noted in the errata. A few other corrections to punctuation are noted below, but most are not.
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