The Kindly Magician
“You have deceived me!” cried the ancient. Then he seized him by the hair and thrust him into the jug of water. And in a minute the fire went out. The ancient spoke: “You overcame joy and rage, grief and fear, hate and desire, it is true; but love you had not driven from your soul. Had you not cried out when the child was flung against the wall, then my elixir would have taken shape and you would have attained immortality. But in the last moment you failed me. Now it is too late. Now I can begin brewing my elixir of life once more from the beginning and you will remain a mere mortal man!”
Du Dsi Tschun saw that the oven had burst, and that instead of the philosopher’s stone it held only a lump of iron. The ancient man cast aside his garments and chopped it up with a magic knife. Du Dsi Tschun took leave of him and returned to Yangdschou, where he lived in great affluence. In his old age he regretted that he had not completed his task. He once more went to the mountain to look for the ancient. But the ancient had vanished without leaving a trace.
Note: The “pieces of copper” are the ancient Chinese copper coins, with a hole in the middle, usually hung on strings to the number of 500 or 1000. Money had a greater purchasing value in ancient China, however, than in the China of to-day. The “Persian Bazaar”: During the reign of the Tang dynasty China maintained an active intercourse with the West, traces of which are at present being investigated in Central Asia. At that time Persian bazaars were no novelty in the city of Si-An-Fu, then the capital. “Herb-oven”: a tripod kettle used for brewing the elixir of life, with which the fairies, dragon and tiger (both the last-mentioned star-incarnations) are connected. In order to prepare the elixir the master must have absolute endurance. It is for this reason that he had placed Du Dsi Tschun in his debt by means of kindness. The yellow cap which the master wears is connected with the teachings of the Yellow Ancient (comp.