Gems of Chinese Literature/The Hung Lou-Mêng-A Popular Physician

JUST then a maid came in to say that the doctor had arrived, and to ask her ladyship to take her seat behind the curtain. “What!” cried her ladyship, “an old woman like me? Why I might easily be the mother of your prodigy! I am not afraid of him. Don’t let down the curtain; he must see me as I am.” So a small table was brought forward and a pillow placed on it, after which the doctor was called in. He entered with downcast eyes and made a respectful salutation to her ladyship, who at once stretched out her hand to rest upon the pillow, while a stool was arranged for the doctor to sit upon. Holding his head aside,[1] the doctor felt the pulse for a long time, by-and-by doing the same with the other hand.[2] He then bowed and retired.

“Her ladyship,” said the doctor to some members of the family, “has nothing the matter with her beyond a slight chill. It is not really necessary for her to take any medicine. Give her light food and keep her warm, and she will soon be all right again. I will, however, write a prescription, and if her ladyship fancies a dose, have it made up and give it to her; but if she would rather not, well it will be all the same in the end.


  1. In order not to look at the patient.
  2. Chinese doctors recognize no fewer than twenty-four varieties of pulse, and always test both wrists.