He was about to come in, when he caught sight of two priests, one a Taoist, the other a Buddhist, coming hither from the opposite direction. The Buddhist had a head covered with mange, and went barefooted. The Taoist had a limping foot, and his hair was all dishevelled.
Like maniacs, they jostled along, chattering and laughing as they drew near.
As soon as they reached Shih-yin’s door, and they perceived him with Ying Lien in his arms, the Bonze began to weep aloud.
Turning towards Shih-yin, he said to him: “My good Sir, why need you carry in your embrace this living but luckless thing, which will involve father and mother in trouble?”
These words did not escape Shih-yin’s ear; but persuaded that they amounted to raving talk, he paid no heed whatever to the bonze.
“Part with her and give her to me,” the Buddhist still went on to say.
Shih-yin could not restrain his annoyance; and hastily pressing his daughter closer to him, he was intent upon going in, when the bonze pointed his hand at him, and burst out in a loud fit of laughter.
He then gave utterance to the four lines that follow:
You indulge your tender daughter and are laughed at as inane;
Vain you face the snow, oh mirror! for it will evanescent wane,
When the festival of lanterns is gone by, guard ‘gainst your doom,
’Tis what time the flames will kindle, and the fire will consume.
Shih-yin understood distinctly the full import of what he heard; but his heart was still full of conjectures. He was about to inquire who and what they were, when he heard the Taoist remark,—“You and I cannot speed together; let us now part company, and each of us will be then able to go after his own business. After the lapse of three ages,
I shall be at the Pei Mang mount, waiting for you;
and we can, after our reunion,
betake ourselves to the Visionary Confines of the Great Void,
there to cancel the name of the stone from the records.”