Storehouse of Laughter – Chapter 1

古艷部

訓子

一富翁世不識字。人勸以延師訓子。師至。始訓之執筆臨朱。書一畫。則訓曰一字。二畫。則訓曰二字。三畫。則訓曰三字。其子便欣然投筆。告父曰。鬼已都曉字義。何頻師為。乃謝去之。踰時。父擬招所親萬姓者飲令子晨起。治狀。久之不成。父趣之。其子恚曰。姓亦多矣。奈何偏姓萬。自朝至今。[終]完得五百餘畫。

又有問薑字如何寫者。對以草字頭。次一字。次田字。又一字。又田字。又一字。其人寫草壹田壹田壹完。玩之。罵曰。如何誑我。有此字。分明是一座寶塔兒。

Teaching the son

A rich man was illiterate, and people persuaded him to hire a teacher to teach his son. The teacher came and started by teaching him how to hold the brush. He drew one stroke, and said “this is the number one.” (一) Two strokes, “the number two.” (二) Three strokes, “the number three.” (三) The son then joyously tossed aside the brush, and told his father: “Even ghosts can learn how to write. I don’t need a teacher any more.” And so the teacher was dismissed. Soon afterwards, the father wanted to invite a relative named Wan (“thousand”) to a banquet. He told his son to rise early and prepare the invitation, but after a long while it was still not ready. The father asked what was going on, and the son despairingly replied: “Of all the names to choose, why be called Thousand? From dawn till now, I’ve only managed Five Hundred.”

Yet another person asked how to write the character “jiang” (ginger). The reply came: First the grass radical, then the number one, then the character for field, another one, another field and then the number one. The person wrote Grassnumberonefieldnumberonefieldnumberone. He looked at it and angrily said: “Why mock me like this? This isn’t a character, it’s a tower!”

堵子

一武官出征。將敗。忽有神兵助陣。反大勝。官叩頭請神姓名。神曰。我是堵子。官曰。小將何德。敢勞堵子尊神見救。答曰。感汝乎昔在教塲。從不曾一箭傷我。

如今武官不肯習射。豈死靠堵子報恩耶。

Target

A military official was on campaign, and close to being beaten, when suddenly a supernatural being in the guise of a soldier turned the tide and helped him win a great victory. The official kowtowed and asked the spirit for his name. The spirit replied: “I am the Spirit of Targets.” The official asked: “What virtue do I have, that I deserve the kind mercy and assistance of the Spirit of Targets?” He replied: “I’m grateful to you for when you were on the training field, you never once hit me with your arrows.” (Also translated by Giles)

Today’s military officials are unwilling to practice archery, and put themselves exclusively at the mercy of the Spirit of Targets.

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