“Yang Hu,” began the Mandarin, “undoubted son, and, after the accomplishment of the intention which it is our fixed purpose to carry out, fitting representative of the person who is here before you, engrave well within your mind the various details upon which he now gives utterance. Regard the virtues; endeavour to pass an amiable and at the same time not unremunerative existence; and on all occasions sacrifice freely, to the end that the torments of those who have gone before may be made lighter, and that others may be induced in turn to perform a like benevolent charity for yourself. Having expressed himself upon these general subjects, this person now makes a last and respectfully-considered desire, which it is his deliberate wish should be carried to the proper deities as his final expression of opinion: That Yang Hu may grow as supple as the dried juice of the bending-palm, and as straight as the most vigorous bamboo from the forests of the North. That he may increase beyond the prolificness of the white-necked crow and cover the ground after the fashion of the binding grass. That in battle his sword may be as a vividly-coloured and many-forked lightning flash, accompanied by thunderbolts as irresistible as Buddha’s divine wrath; in peace his voice as resounding as the rolling of many powerful drums among the Khingan Mountains. That when the kindled fire of his existence returns to the great Mountain of Pure Flame the earth shall accept again its component parts, and in no way restrain the divine essence from journeying to its destined happiness. These words are Ping Siang’s last expression of opinion before he passes beyond, given in the unvarying assurance that so sacred and important a petition will in no way be neglected.”
Having in this manner completed all the affairs which seemed to be of a necessary and urgent nature, and fixing his last glance upon Yang Hu with every variety of affectionate and estimable emotion, the Mandarin drank a sufficient quantity of the liquid, and placing himself upon a couch in an attitude of repose, passed in this dignified and unassuming manner into the Upper Air.
After the space of a few moments spent in arranging certain objects and in inward contemplation, Yang Hu crossed the chamber, still holding the half-filled vessel of gold-leaf in his hand, and drawing back the hanging silk, gazed over the silent streets of Ching-fow and towards the great sky-lantern above.
“Hiya is faithless,” he said at length in an unspeaking voice; “this person’s mother a bitter-tasting memory, his father a swiftly passing shadow that is now for ever lost.” His eyes rested upon the closed vessel in his hand. “Gladly would—” his thoughts began, but with this unworthy image a new impression formed itself within his mind. “A clearly-expressed wish was uttered,” he concluded, “and Tung Fel still remains.” With this resolution he stepped back into the chamber and struck the gong loudly.