Taoist: An Unexpected Encounter in the Ruined Temple

A tale of an unexpected feast in a ruined temple with a Taoist priest, beautiful women, and a surprising twist.

Han Sheng is a descendant of a wealthy family and is very hospitable. There is a man named Xu in the same village who often comes to his house to drink. One day, while Han Sheng was hosting guests, a Taoist priest came to his door to beg for alms. The family tried to give money or grain in the alms bowl, but the Taoist priest refused and refused to leave. In anger, the family turned away from him. Han Sheng heard the sound of the alms bowl being knocked for a long time and asked the family what was going on. The family told him about the situation just now. Before they could finish speaking, the Taoist priest walked into the door. Han Sheng invited him to sit down, and the Taoist priest greeted the host and guests with a wave of his hand before sitting down. After chatting with him for a while, Han Sheng learned that he had just arrived and settled in the ruined temple to the east of the village. Han Sheng said, “Master, when did you come to reside in the Daoist temple to the east of the village? I haven’t heard about it. I really haven’t fulfilled my duty as the landlord.” The Taoist priest replied, “I am a wandering hermit who has just arrived in this blessed place and haven’t made many acquaintances. I heard that you, sir, are very generous and hospitable, so I specially wanted to come and ask for a drink.” Han Sheng then invited the Taoist priest to drink. The Taoist priest had a good tolerance for alcohol and drank heartily. Xu, seeing that his Taoist robe was dirty and torn, treated him very rudely, and Han Sheng also regarded the Taoist priest as an ordinary vagabond. The Taoist priest had downed more than twenty cups before taking his leave.

From then on, every time the Han family hosted a banquet, the Taoist priest would come, eat if there was food, and drink if there was wine. Han Sheng was starting to feel a bit annoyed by the frequent visits of the Taoist priest. One time, while they were drinking, Xu mocked and said, “Master, you come as a guest every day. Don’t you want to be the host for once?” The Taoist priest chuckled and replied, “The Taoist and you, sir, are the same, both just carrying a mouth on your shoulders.” Xu felt ashamed and had no words to reply. The Taoist priest said, “Although it’s said that way, the humble Daoist has been harboring the intention to express gratitude to all of you for a long time. When the time comes, I will definitely prepare some humble wine to show my appreciation.” After finishing the wine, the Taoist priest instructed, “Tomorrow at noon, I hope you all will come to visit my humble abode.”

The next day, Han and Xu invited each other to the ruined temple for the banquet, both suspecting whether the Taoist priest would arrange a feast. As they walked towards the temple, the Taoist priest was already waiting on the way, and the three of them chatted as they walked, unconsciously arriving at the temple’s gate. Upon entering, they saw that the courtyard had been completely renovated, with continuous towers and pavilions that seemed endless. Both of them were very surprised and asked, “We haven’t been here in a while. When were these buildings constructed?” The Taoist priest replied, “They were just completed recently.” When they entered the inner chamber, they found the furnishings even more luxurious, surpassing even those of prestigious families. They couldn’t help but feel a sense of reverence. As soon as they sat down, dishes and wine were served by beautiful young boys and girls, all around sixteen years old, dressed in exquisite long robes and crimson satin shoes. The food was delicious and abundant. After the meal, they were served some desserts, many of which they couldn’t even name, displayed on crystal and jade plates that illuminated the table. The wine was poured into glass cups, more than a foot thick. The Taoist priest then instructed the young attendants, “Call the Shi sisters.” After a short while, the two beautiful women entered. One had a slender and graceful figure, like a delicate willow, while the other was shorter and slightly younger. Both were incredibly charming and unmatched in beauty. The Taoist priest had them sing to enhance the festive atmosphere. The younger one sang while clapping, and the older one played a flute in accompaniment, their voices soft and melodious. After the song, the Taoist priest raised his wine cup and encouraged everyone to drink, while the two sisters poured wine for the guests. He then looked at them and asked, “Beautiful ladies, it’s been a while since you danced. Can you still dance?” Several servants came forward and spread a carpet in front of the table, and the two women danced facing each other, their long sleeves fluttering, filling the air with fragrance. After the dance, they leaned against a folding screen. Xu and Han were completely enchanted, and before they knew it, they were already drunk.

The Taoist priest no longer attended to the guests, drained his cup in one gulp, stood up, and said to the guests, “Please help yourselves to the wine; I’ll take a short rest and be back shortly.” After saying that, he left. In the south room, there was a wooden bed adorned with seashells, and the two beautiful women spread silk bedding and helped the Taoist priest lie down. The Taoist priest had the older of the two women share the bed with him, while the younger one stood by the bed to scratch him. Seeing this situation, Xu and Han were deeply displeased. Xu shouted, “Taoist, such behavior is unacceptable!” He wanted to step in and stop him, but the Taoist priest hurriedly got up and fled. Xu saw the younger beauty still standing by the bed and took advantage of his drunken state to pull her onto the bed to lie beside him boldly. When he looked at the beauty on the south bed, she was still lying on the embroidered couch, so he said to Han Sheng, “Why be too prudish?” Han Sheng went straight to the south bed. He wanted to get close to the beauty, but she was already asleep, and he couldn’t wake her up. He ended up falling asleep while holding her from behind. When dawn broke, Han Sheng woke up, his alcohol-induced haze clearing, only to feel something cold and hard in his arms. He looked and realized he was holding a long stone slab, lying beneath a staircase. He hastily checked on Xu, who was still asleep, resting his head on a rock in an old outhouse, snoring loudly. Han Sheng kicked him awake, and both of them were in a state of extreme panic. They looked around and saw nothing but a courtyard overgrown with weeds and two dilapidated temples.

《道士》

韩生,世家也,好客。同村徐氏,常饮于其座。会宴集,有道士托钵门上。家人投钱及粟,皆不受,亦不去。家人怒,归不顾。韩闻击剥之声甚久,询之家人,以情告。言未已,道士竟入。韩招之坐,道士向主客皆一举手,即坐。略致研诘,始知其初居村东破庙中。韩曰:“何日栖鹤东观,竟不闻知,殊缺地主之礼。”答曰:“野人新至,无交游。闻居士挥霍,深愿求饮焉。”韩命举觞。道士能豪饮,徐见其衣服垢敝,颇偃蹇,不甚为礼,韩亦海客遇之。道士倾饮二十馀杯,乃辞而去。

自是每宴会,道士辄至,遇食则食,遇饮则饮,韩亦稍厌其频。饮次,徐嘲之曰:“道长日为客,宁不一作主?”道士笑曰:“道人与居士等,惟双肩承一喙耳。”徐惭不能对。道士曰:“虽然,道人怀诚久矣,会当竭力作杯水之酬。”饮毕,嘱曰:“翌午幸赐光宠。”

次日,相邀同往,疑其不设。行去,道士已候于途,且语且步,已至寺门。入门,则院落一新,连阁云蔓。大奇之,曰:“久不至此,创建何时?”道士答:“竣工未久。”比入其室,陈设华丽,世家所无,二人肃然起敬。甫坐,行酒下食,皆二八狡童,锦衣朱履。酒馔芳美,备极丰渥。饭已,另有小进,珍果多不可名,贮以水晶玉石之器,光照几榻。酌以玻璃盏,围尺许。道士曰:“唤石家姊妹来。”童去少时,二美人入,一细长,如弱柳,一身短,齿最稚,媚曼双绝。道士即使歌以侑酒。少者拍板而歌,长者和以洞箫,其声清细。既阕,道士悬爵促釂,又命遍酌。顾问:“美人久不舞,尚能之否?”遂有僮仆展氍毹于筵下,两女对舞,长衣乱拂,香尘四散。舞罢,斜倚画屏。二人心旷神飞,不觉醺醉。

道士亦不顾客,举杯饮尽,起谓客曰:“姑烦自酌,我稍憩,即复来。”即去。南屋壁下,设一螺钿之床,女子为施锦裀,扶道士卧。道士乃曳长者共寝,命少者立床下为之爬搔。二人睹此状,颇不平,徐乃大呼:“道士不得无礼!”往将挠之,道士急起而遁。见少女犹立床下,乘醉拉向北榻,公然拥卧。视床上美人,尚眠绣榻,顾韩曰:“君何太迂?”韩乃径登南榻。欲与狎亵,而美人睡去,拨之不转,因抱与俱寝。天明,酒梦俱醒,觉怀中冷物冰人,视之,则抱长石卧青阶下。急视徐,徐尚未醒,见其枕遗屙之石,酣寝败厕中。蹴起,互相骇异。四顾,则一庭荒草,两间破屋而已。

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