During the Han Dynasty there was a man by the name of Tung Yung from the area of Ch’ien-ch’eng [near modern Po-hsing in Shantung]. When young, he lost his mother, so he lived alone with his father. He worked very hard in the fields, following behind their small cart when there was no longer room to ride. Then his father died, and he had no means by which to provide for a funeral. So, he sold himself as a slave in order to pay for the funeral expenses. His master knew of his personal worth, gave him some ten thousand cash, and sent him off.
In the third year of the Yung-hsing reign period [153-155], his mourning had come to an end, and he wished now to return to his master to serve his indentured obligation. On the way he encountered a woman who said to him, “I would serve you as your wife.” Tung accepted, and they went along together.
When they reached the home of Tung’s master, the master said, “The money I gave you was a gift.” Tung said, “Due to your graciousness my father was able to receive burial. Although I am an unworthy person, I must insist upon doing my utmost to repay your great kindness.” So the master asked, “What is your wife able to do?” “She can weave,” Tung said. “If you insist on the payment, then ask your wife to weave for me a hundred bolts of fine silk cloth.” Thereupon, Tung’s wife wove for the master, finishing after ten days.
As they left the house, the woman said to Tung, “I am the Weaving Girl of Heaven. Because of your extreme filial devotion, the Emperor of Heaven asked me to help you repay your debt.” So saying, she rose into the air and departed. Where she went no one knows.
Tr. Michael Broschat
Note: This is an example of the adaptation of a miracle story for the purpose of propagating Confucian moralities. Derived from the “Hsiao-tzu chuan” (Story of the Filial Son) ascribed to Liu Hsiang (77-6 B.C.), this SSC version in turn became a source of adaptations by later story tellers, including a prosimetric version in the pien-wen style (see Wang Ch’ung-min et al., eds., Tun-huang pien-wen chi [Peking: Jen-min wen-hsüeh, 1957], pp. 109-13.)
Hsien Ch’ao, styled I-ch’i, served under the Wei Dynasty [220-265] as assistant magistrate of Chi-pei Prefecture [present-day Fei-ch’eng County in Shantung Province]. One night during the Chia-p’ing reign period [249-253], while sleeping alone, he dreamt that a goddess came to offer herself to him. She explained that she was a jade maiden1 from heaven and her native place was Tung-chün.2 Her family name was Ch’eng-kung, and her given name was Chih-ch’iung. Because she lost her parents at an early age, the King of Heaven took pity on her and sent her down to marry someone.
During his dreams, Ch’ao’s spirits were enlivened as he delighted in the girl’s uncommon beauty. After waking, he would think back longingly on her. To him she seemed both real and unreal. All this went on for three or four nights.
Then one day she appeared in person, riding in a curtained carriage followed by a retinue of eight maids. She wore a robe of embroidered silk damask, and her face and bearing were just like a celestial beauty’s. She told Ch’ao she was seventy years old, but to him she looked only about fifteen or sixteen. In her carriage was a five-piece set of decanters and goblets made of blue and white porcelain, together with some rare delicacies and wine, all of which she shared with Ch’ao.
“I am a jade girl dispatched from heaven to seek a husband,” she said to him. “I have come to you not as a reward for your virtue, but because it was fated that we become husband and wife. Though this match won’t do you any good, it won’t bring you any harm either. At least you will always have the use of light carriages, ride stout horses, feast on exotic foods, and have all the tapestries you want. Because I am a goddess, I cannot bear you a son. But since I am not the jealous type, I would not stand in the way if you were to take another wife.”
They then became husband and wife. The girl gave Ch’ao a poem. It read:
Whirled and wafted, I float between the Po-hai Gulf and Ρ’eng-lai Island3
Crashing, smashing, the “cloud stones” sound.4
The iris needs no moisture
For the highest virtue has its appointed season.
Would a goddess come down for no reason?--
It is fate that sends me to help you.
Heed me, and your relatives, close and distant, will all prosper
Disobey me and you will bring down disaster...
This is the most important part of the poem. The entire poem contains more than two hundred words and cannot be recorded here in full.
The girl also wrote a seven-chüan commentary on the Book of Changes, with the trigrams and images classified according to their judgments.5 The commentary was profound and could be used for divination. It thus resembles Master Yang’s Great Mystery6 and Mr. Hsüeh’s Central Classic.7 Ch’ao had no difficulty in understanding the ideas in the commentary and used it to foretell the future.
He and the jade maiden had lived as husband and wife for seven or eight years when his parents matched him with another woman. Ch’ao, however, continued to meet the jade maiden, dining with her every other day and sleeping with her every other night. She came at night and left at dawn--her movements as swift as lightning. No one but Ch’ao ever saw her. They used a house that had seldom been occupied, so she went unseen. But people heard voices inside the house and became curious. They asked Ch’ao what was happening, and Ch’ao revealed the affair. The jade girl then wanted to leave.
“I am a goddess,” she said to Ch’ao. “I did not want others to know about my relationship with you. Because of your carelessness, everything about me has been exposed. Now I cannot see you anymore. Since we have been together for several years, our love for each other is deep. When separated, how can I help feeling sad? But under the circumstances there is no other way out. Both of us must be strong.”
She told her servant to serve them some wine. Then she opened a box and took out two silk gowns, which she gave to Ch’ao along with a poem. She then held his arms and bid him a tearful farewell. After she composed herself she climbed into her carriage and departed quickly--as if on wings. Ch’ao grieved for several days and nearly fell ill.
Five years later Ch’ao received orders to go to Loyang8 as an emissary. On his way westward, while on a road beneath Fish Mountain [in modern Tung-o County, Shantung] north of the Chi River, he gazed toward the end of the winding road ahead and saw a carriage drawn by a team of horses. The carriage and horses looked like the jade maiden’s. Ch’ao spurred his horse and dashed ahead to make sure. They were hers. She opened the curtain to her carriage, and when they saw each other they were overcome with sadness and joy.
Ch’ao then steadied the horse on the left and took the reins. Together he and the jade maiden rode to Loyang where they resumed their relationship as husband and wife. They still lived there during the T’ai-k’ang reign period [280-289].
The jade girl did not come every day. She would always come on the third day of the third month, the fifth day of the fifth month, the seventh day of the seventh month, the ninth day of the ninth month, and the fifteenth day of the eleventh month. She would spend the night and then depart. To commemorate her, Chang Min [fl. 275-280] composed a “Rhapsody on the Goddess.”9
(SSC 1/31; IWLC, 79.1b-2a)
Tr. Cordell D. K. Yee
Note: This story is to an extent typical of CK stories about marriage with a transcendent being, yet it shows a diverging development from what might be the original pattern (seen, for instance, in the preceding story “Tung Yung”). Although it still retains the motif of “eventual separation,” an assertion of the human wish for a more permanent relationship is suggested in the atypical ending here.
1 A kind of Taoist goddess.
2 The former name of an area comprising part of northwestern Shantung and southern Hopeh. The jade girl seems to be referring to her original place of birth before her transformation into a goddess. According to religious Taoism, a person could transcend human existence and become an immortal through yoga, alchemy, or macrobiotics.
3 Ρ’eng-lai is one of the mythical island homes of Taoist divinities.
4 The meaning of this verse is unclear. Some commentators believe that “cloud stones” are a percussion instrument similar to the stone drum. [The term yün (cloud) may be an abbreviation for yün-pan (cloud-patterned clappers), while sh ih (stone) itself refers to a stone drum.--Ed.]
5 The Book of Changes, or I ching, is a divination manual which may date from the eighth century B.C. It consists of short oracles or judgments arranged under sixty-four hexagrams.
6 Yang Hsiung (53 B.C.-A.D. l8) wrote this book, Great Mystery or T’ai hsüan, in imitation of the I ching.
7 Central Classic is Chung ching. No such work is listed in the bibliographies of the Chinese dynastic histories.
8 A city which served as capital during various periods. It was located twenty li northwest of present-day Loyang County in Honan Province.
9 The SSC version has “Chang Mao-hsien” (i.e., Chang Hua, 232-300) for “Chang Min;” the correction is made according to the version cited in IWLC. Chang Hua also wrote a fu with the same title, which has been lost. For Chang Min’s work, see IWLC, 79.51b.--Ed.
Hu-mu Pan of T’ai-shan [east of T’ai-an County, Shantung], courtesy name Chi-yu,1 once went by the foot of Mt. T’ai where, amongst the trees, he unexpectedly encountered a crimson-clothed official of the rank of Groom who called out to Pan, “The Lord of T’ai-shan2 summons you.” Pan was startled and drew back, too frightened to reply. Then another groom came out and called to him, so he walked with them for several dozen steps. One of them then asked him to momentarily close his eyes, and in no time Pan was in front of some official buildings with guards and sentries of great majesty and solemnity. He was then ushered into a large hall where he made obeisance to the lord.
The lord had a meal set out for him, and then said to him, “My reason for seeing you is none other than to entrust you with a letter to take to my son-in-law.” “Where is your daughter,” asked Pan. “My daughter is the wife of the Lord of the Lo River,3 replied the Lord of T’ai-shan. “I will take your letter, but how am I to reach him?” asked Pan. “Go to the central confluence of the river, then strike your boat and call out for a servant. Someone should come to receive your letter,” the lord said. Pan bade farewell and departed.
The grooms once again had Pan close his eyes and in a short while he was on the same road as before. Then he went westward, did as the spirit had instructed, and called out for the servant. Momentarily a maid-servant did indeed appear. She took the letter and submerged. Not long after, she reappeared and spoke to Pan, “The Lord of the River would like to see you for a moment.” She too asked Pan to close his eyes. Presently, he arrived and paid his respects to the Lord of the River. Then the lord had a grand feast set out, and he was courteous and attentive to Pan. When Pan was about to leave, the Lord of the River addressed him, “I am grateful for your coming so far to deliver the letter, and yet there is nothing valuable here to give you in return.” Thereupon he ordered his attendants, “Bring those green silk shoes of mine,” which he then gave to Pan.
Pan went out, closed his eyes and was immediately back in the boat. Then he went to Ch’ang-an where he spent a year before returning to T’ai-shan. As he reached the same outskirts on his way home, he dared not pass by surreptitiously, so he drummed on a tree announcing his name. “I have returned from Ch’ang-an and wish to present some news.” Presently, the grooms appeared and took Pan in via the same method as before, whereupon he presented a letter. “When you leave I shall again recompense you,” said the Lord of T’ai-shan.
When Pan had finished speaking with his host he excused himself to go to the privy. All of a sudden he saw his deceased father, shackled and fettered. In all there were several hundred others like him. Pan advanced to greet his father, and crying profusely, asked, “How have you come to this?” “My existence after death has been most miserable,” said his father. “I have been banished here for three years. It’s already been two years and the agony cannot be endured. I know that your services have been appreciated by the illustrious Lord of T’ai-shan. Please present my case and beg that this sentence be removed, and beseech him that I be made the local spirit back home.”
Pan did as he was asked, and kowtowing, he presented the request. The Lord of T’ai-shan said, “The living and dead travel two different roads--they are not to approach each other. I have no compassion in this case.” Pan pressed his request with great fervor before the lord finally allowed it. Pan then took leave and returned to his home.
After little more than a year, almost every one of his sons died. In great dread he once again made his way to T’ai-shan, knocked on a tree and requested to be seen. The previous grooms then met him and presented him to the lord. Pan explained the reason for his visit, “My previous words to you were unreasonable and stupid. After I reached home my sons began to die one by one--they are almost all gone. I now fear that the calamity may strike again. I have come to report to you my situation, hoping to receive your pity and help.” The Lord of T’ai-shan clapped his hands and laughed loudly. “This is why I warned you before that the living and the dead travel two different roads and they are not to approach each other!” He then ordered those outside to summon Pan’s father. Shortly, he arrived at the hall and the Lord of T’ai-shan questioned him, “After returning to the local shrine of your own village, you ought to have tried to bring good fortune to your own household. Why now are your grandsons almost all dead?” “I was gone so long from my native village,” he replied, “that I was very happy to get back. And then there was lots of wine and food set out for me. Then I began to long for my grandsons and I summoned them.” The Lord of T’ai-shan then dismissed him from the place; he could only cry profusely and depart.
Pan returned home, and thereafter when he had more sons, there was never any trouble.
Tr. Michael Broschat
Note: The motifs of message-bearing and intercession for a loved one among the dead are similar to those found in “Ts’ai Ch’i’s Wife” (2). Even as it bears out the theme that “the dead retain their sentience,” the spiriting away of the grandchildren by the old man out of love for them also shows a wry humor in its ghostly sense of humanity.
1 For a reference to Hu-mu Pan in history, see San-kuo chih 6, p. 192.--Ed.
2 The Lord of T’ai-shan is in charge of summoning souls after death; see “Chiang Ch’i’s dead Son” (1), n. 2.
3 Technically, this would make the Lord of T’ai-shan’s daughter Fu-fei, whom other traditions hold to be a daughter of the sage-king Shun.
Mi Chu,1 styled Tzu-chung, was a native of Chu Prefecture in Tung-hai [a commandery covering what is now southern Shantung and eastern Kiangsu]. His family had been merchants for generations, and their accumulated wealth was vast. Once, returning from Lo-yang and still some distance from home, he saw a beautiful young lady by the roadside beckoning him to give her a ride. When they had traveled what could have been just a bit more than twenty li, she thanked him and started to leave. “I am a messenger from heaven, on my way to burn down the house of Mi Chu of Tung-hai,” she said, “and I am telling you this because I am grateful for your having given me the ride.” Mi Chu pleaded with her to relent. She replied, “I fear I must burn it down. But even so, you could hurry along and I will go at a leisurely pace. In any case, by noon, the fire must begin.” Mi Chu rushed right back. The instant he arrived home he removed all of his treasures from the house, and exactly at noon, a great fire broke out.
Tr. Kenneth J. DeWoskin
Note: An example of a kuai phenomenon that falls outside of the types given in the Introduction.
1 For Hi’s biography, see San-kuo chih 38, p. 969.--Ed.
During the Hsing-ning period [363-370],1 a son of the Minister of Ceremonies Han Po, a son of the K’uai-chi Palace Minister Wang Yün, and a son of the Grandee Attendant Liu Tan traveled together to the temple atop Mount Chiang.2 The temple was filled with a number of images of ladies, all with very upright and respectable demeanor. After becoming thoroughly inebriated, each of the three young men picked an image and joked about spending the night with her. That very night, after retiring, they each had the same dream--the deity of the temple, Lord Chiang, sent a messenger with the following instructions: “Our sons and daughters are all homely, and we are honored that you have looked upon some of them with favor. A day has been selected for a meeting, and we look forward to welcoming you over here.” Each of the men on his own recognized that this was no ordinary dream, but when they compared notes and found that their dreams were the same, coinciding to the last detail, they were absolutely terrified. They immediately prepared sacrifices and returned to the temple to beg forgiveness for their indiscretion. But once again they had a dream, this time that Lord Chiang himself came down to announce, “You gentlemen have already looked upon my daughters with a real eagerness to join them. The appointed day will soon be upon us. How can we allow you to change at this late date and accept your regrets?” Shortly thereafter, the three men passed away.
Tr. Kenneth J. DeWoskin
Note: Chiang-shan, or Mount Chiang, a famous lankmark in the suburb of Mo-ling (modern Nanking), was named after an official, Chiang Tzu-wen (late Han), who died there during a campaign against the rebels. (It was formerly known as Chung-shan.) The first five entries of chüan 5 of SSC (5/92-96) are all concerned with revelations of the god of Mount Chiang.
As pointed out by Wang Shao-ying (SSC, p. 59), the official positions of Han Po, Wang Yün, and Liu Tan mentioned in the text were attained by these men only after Kan Pao’s death or after the original compilation of the Sou-shen chi. Like many others in the 20-chüan edition, this story must have been a later addition.
1 The text reads “Hsien-ning period” (275-280], which conflicts with the dates of the historical figures mentioned here; change made acording to Wang Shao-ying’s suggestion (see SSC, p. 59).--Ed.
2 For the biographies of Han Po, Wang Yun, and Liu Tan, see Chin shu 75, pp. 1992ff.; 93, pp.2420ff.; and 61, p.1676, respectively.--Ed.
Kan Chiang and his wife Mo Yeh lived in the state of Ch’u.1 He once made a pair of swords--one male, one female--for the king.2 But since it had taken him three years to finish the swords, the king was angry and wanted to kill him. Kan Chiang had a talk with his wife, who was pregnant and about to give birth.
“I took three years to make the swords for the king,” he said. “The king is angry and will certainly kill me. If the baby turns out to be a boy, after he grows up tell him this: Go out the door and look toward the mountain to the south. There is a pine tree growing out of a stone. A sword has been stuck into the tree.”
Kan Chiang took the female sword to the palace and presented it to the king. The king was already incensed, and upon realizing that only the female sword had been brought, and that the male was missing, grew even more furious. He had Kan Chiang killed immediately.
Mo Yeh’s son was named Ch’ih. When he reached manhood he asked his mother, “Where’s my father?”
“Your father made swords for the King of Ch’u,” his mother answered. “It took him three years to finish them, so the king lost his temper and killed him. Before he left, he told me to tell you to go out of the house and look toward the mount in the south. There is a pine tree growing out of a stone. A sword has been stuck into the tree.
The son went out of the house and looked south. He did not see the mountain, but only a pine post on a stone base in front of the hall. He split the post with an ax and found a sword. Afterwards he thought day and night only of avenging his father’s death on the King of Ch’u.
One night the king saw Mo Yeh’s son in a dream: his brows were one foot apart,3 and he spoke of his desire for vengeance. After this the king offered a reward of one thousand gold pieces for the capture of Mo Yeh’s son. Upon hearing of this, Ch’ih fled to the mountains where he wandered about wailing. There he met a stranger who said to him, “You are so young. Why are you wailing so bitterly?”
“I am the son of Kan Chiang and Mo Yeh,” he replied. “The King of Ch’u killed my father, and I want to avenge his death.”
“I’ve heard that the king has set a price of one thousand gold pieces on your head,” the stranger said. “If you give me your head and sword, I will avenge your father’s death for you.”
“I would be very much obliged!” said Ch’ih, who then drew his sword over this own throat. Still standing erect, he held his head and sword with both hands and presented them to the stranger.
“I won’t fail you,” the stranger said. Only then did the young man’s corpse fall over.
The stranger took the head to the King of Ch’u. The king was delighted.
“This is the head of a brave man,” the stranger told the king. “It should be boiled in a cauldron.”
The king did as the stranger said. But after three days and nights, the head still did not dissolve. It leaped out of the boiling water, glaring with rage.
“The young man’s head has not dissolved,” the stranger said to the king. “Perhaps Your Majesty should come over here and take a look. Only then will it dissolve.”
When the king went over and looked down into the cauldron, the stranger pointed the sword at him--the king’s head dropped into the water. The stranger directed the sword at his own head. It too fell into the water. The three heads all dissolved so that there was no telling them apart. The liquid was drained from the cauldron, and all the bones were buried in one spot. The burial site thus became known as the “Grave of the Three Kings.” It is located in what is now North I-ch’un County in Ju-nan Prefecture [in modern Honan].
Tr. Cordell D. K. Yee
Note: A spin-off of the legend of the famous swords and their makers recorded in Wu Yüeh ch’un-ch’iu, this story consists of a complex of themes and motifs: revenge, knight-errantry, the supernatural manifestation of a severed head, etc. It appealed strongly to the Chinese imagination and was circulated widely during Chin times. Many distantly separated locations were identified as the site of the Grave of the Three Kings.
The laconic description of the young man’s self-beheading is striking and effective, though the action itself is puzzling. The device of conveying a message in a riddle, while thematically functional, adds a sense of mystery and depth to the text as well.
Lu Hsün rewrote and expanded the story, altering the tone somewhat (see “Forging the Swords” in his Old Tales Retold, tr. Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang [Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1972], pp. 74-95).
1 A state which once covered Hunan, most of Hupeh, and parts of Anhwei, Kiangsi, Kiangsu, and Honan (740 B.C.).
2 In the Wu Yüeh ch’un-ch’iu (Chronicles of Wu and Yüeh), the couple were said to be from the state of Wu. The King of Wu, Ho Lü (514-496 B.C.) asked Kan Chiang to make a pair of swords. The iron which the latter used for the purpose would not melt until his wife cut off her hair, clipped her finger nails, and threw both into the furnace. When the swords were forged, the yang (male) one was called Kan Chiang, and the yin (female) one, Mo Yeh. See Wu Yueh ch’un-ch’iu, (rpt. Taipei: Shih-chieh shu-chü, 1959), 4, pp. 76-78.--Ed.
3 Wide foreheads were believed to be characteristic of men of excellence. [The hero’s one-foot wide forehead is derived from a pun that contains a riddled message to the king in his dream. The name Ch’ih (or “red”) is homophonous with the word for the length measure “foot.” In other versions the hero is sometimes referred to as Mei-chien-ch’ih (lit., Red-Spot-between-the-Brows).--Ed.]
During the Han Dynasty, a filial girl in Tung-hai [a commandery covering what is now southern Shantung and eastern Kiangsu] devoted herself to the care of her mother-in-law. One day the old lady told her, “Your dedication in caring for me has made your own life miserable. I am old and do not cherish what years may remain for me. You have been fettered to me for too many of your youthful years.” The mother-in-law then hung herself. Her daughter went to the authorities and made a charge, “This girl has murdered my mother,” so they then arrested her, bound her, and flogged her mercilessly to get to the bottom of the crime. Unable to withstand the torture, the filial girl pleaded guilty to the crime she had not committed. At that time Yü-kung was the warden and said, “This girl spent more than ten years in devoted care for her mother-in-law. She is known for her filial piety and could not possibly have committed murder.” But the magistrate remained unconvinced, and Yü-kung, having failed to talk sense into the magistrate, clutched the execution order and with tears in his eyes took his leave.
For three years thereafter, the prefecture experienced continuous drought, without a single drop of rain. A subsequent magistrate took office and Yü-kung told him, “The filial girl should not have died; she was executed unjustly by the former magistrate, and we are now paying the price.” The new magistrate went immediately in person to perform a sacrifice at the grave of the girl. Because he marked the grave in this fashion, the heavens poured forth rain and the year’s crops were abundant.
The Chang-lao chuan says,1 “The filial girl was named Chou Ch’ing. When she was about to be executed, she pointed to five pennants suspended some hundred feet above her cart on a bamboo staff and swore to the crowd around her, ‘If I am guilty, I die willingly and my blood will flow into the ground. If I die unjustly, let my blood contrarily flow upward. No sooner had the ax fallen than her blood, green-yellow, streamed to the pole and flowed up, up to the highest pennant, streamed over the flags and poured down.”
Tr. Kenneth J. DeWoskin
Translator’s Note: This story will be recognized as one of the sources of the celebrated Yüan play by Kuan Han-ch’ing, “Injustice to Tou O.”
Editor’s Note: Cf. Han shu 71, pp. 3041-42, where a similar story is recorded.
1 An alternate reading of the text here is “The old people passed down these words, ‘The filial girl. . .’ ”--Ed.
During the Han Dynasty [206 В.С.-A.D.220] there was a man by the name of Fan Shih, styled Ssu, courtesy name Chü-ch’ing, from Chin-hsiang in Shan-yang [in modern Shantung].1 He was a friend of Chang Shao of Ju-nan [in modern Honan], whose courtesy name was Yüan-po. They both attended the Imperial Academy together. Sometime later the two took leave to return to their respective homes.
“In two years’ time I should return, and will go to your place to pay my respects to your parents and see your wife,” said Fan Shih to Chang Shao. They then both agreed upon the future date.
Later when the time was just about due, Yüan-po related the whole plan to his mother and asked that she prepare a meal in expectation of Fan Shih’s arrival. “You’ve been separated for two years,” said his mother, “and your agreement involves such a long distance. How can you be so trusting?” “Chü-ch’ing is a trustworthy gentleman,” replied Chang Shao. “He will never go back on his word.” “Then, that being so, I will make some wine for you two.”
When the time came, Fan Shih did indeed arrive. They went into the main hall to pay their respects to Chang Shao’s mother. They drank together and were extremely happy. Then they parted once more.
One night sometime thereafter, Yüan-po became seriously ill. His neighbors Chih Chün-chang and Yin Tzu-cheng watched over him from morning to night. As Chang Shao was about to expire he sighed and said, “I’m so sorry I won’t be seeing my friend-unto-death.” “But Chün-chang and I have taken such good care of you,” protested Yin. “If we could not be called friends-unto-death, who else could it be that you seek?” “You two are just my friends-in-life. Fan Chü-ch’ing in Shan-yang is the one I mean by friend-unto-death.” Shortly thereafter he died.
Suddenly, Fan Shih, at his own home, saw Chang Shao in a dream, wearing a black headdress with a trailing strap and dragging his slippers. Chang called out to Fan Shih, “Chü-ch’ing, I died on such-and-such a day and ought to be buried soon to stay forever in the underworld. You have not forgotten me thus far, but could you possibly make it to the funeral in time?” Fan Shih woke up in a daze, and sighing mournfully began to cry.
Then he donned clothes proper for the mourning of a friend and hurried off in order to attend the funeral.
Before he could get there, however, the funeral had already begun. The procession had already reached the open grave and the bearers were about to lower the casket, but it would not go in. Chang Shao’s mother held onto the casket. “Yüan-po,” she said, “is it that you want something?” She then held back the casket.
Time passed, and a pure white cart with matching steeds could be seen in the distance, its driver yelling and wailing as it approached. Chang Shao’s mother looked at it and said, “That must be Fan Shih.”
When Fan arrived, knocking his head against the coffin, he spoke to the casket. “Go on, Yüan-po. The dead and living travel two different paths. We will be parted forever from now on.” Those gathered for the burial, numbering about a thousand in all, broke into tears. Fan Shih then took the bier strap and led the casket forward. The casket now went on its way.
He stayed by the grave afterward to arrange for trees to be planted around the tomb. Only then did he leave.
(SSC 11/299; Hou Han-shu 87, 2676-77)
Tr. Michael Broschat
Note: Similar in wording to the biography of Fan Shih in Hou Han shu, “Tu hsing lieh-chuan” (“Biographies of Men with Extraordinary Character”), 81, 2676-77, the story is better known through its vernacular hua-pen version entitled “Fan Chü-ch’ing chi shu sheng-ssu-chiao” (A Date for the Chicken and Millet Meal between Fan Chü-ch’ing and his Friend-unto-Death, KCHS, 16). There is also a play based on this story by Kung T’ien-ting (fl. 1294) entitled “Fan Chang chi shu” (A Date for the Chicken and Millet Meal between Fan and Chang).
1 For his official biography, see Hou Han shu 87, pp. 2676-79.
In the time of Emperor Kao Hsin,1 an old woman who lived in the royal palace developed an ear infection that went on for some time. A doctor tried to cure it by extracting an earwig as big as a silkworm’s cocoon. After the woman had left, the doctor placed the insect in a gourd and covered it with a plate. Sometime later the head-insect turned into a dog with multi-colored markings. In accordance with its origin it was called P’an-hu (plate-gourd) and was subsequently raised as a pet.
During that time, the Jung barbarians under General Wu became strong and often crossed over the border. The king sent a general on a campaign against this menace, but Wu could not be captured. The king then declared that anyone who obtained the head of General Wu of the Jung would be rewarded with a thousand catties of gold, enfeoffed with an area of ten thousand households, and given the hand of the king’s youngest daughter in marriage.
Sometime afterwards P’an-hu went to the royal chambers carrying a head between his teeth. The king examined it closely. Sure enough it was the Jung general Wu. What was he to do? “P’an-hu is an animal,” chorused the ministers. “He cannot be given official rank. Neither can he take a wife. Although he has done something of merit, no rewards can be bestowed.”
Now the king’s daughter heard of this and said to the king, “My Lord has promised me to anyone in the country who can accomplish the task. P’an-hu came bearing the head and has rid the country of an evil. Heaven’s will has decreed that it should be this way--it is not merely the wisdom and strength of a dog! A king must take seriously his decrees; a vassal must take seriously his declared allegiance. You must not turn your back on a covenant made clearly before the entire country for the sake of my insignificant person. That would be to court calamity for the country.” The king felt fearful of her words and followed her council. He commanded that his youngest daughter should go with Ρ’an-hu.
The dog took the girl to the Southern Mountains2 where the grass and vegetation grew luxuriant and plentiful, and where no men had been. Once there, the young woman got rid of the clothes she had been wearing, took on the relationship of servant to the dog, wore only clothes she could make on her own, and followed P’an-hu up mountains and through valleys. They lived in dwellings formed by rocks.
The king was grieved and thought of her often. Finally he sent someone to try to look for them, but the heavens produced a great storm, and the mountains trembled while clouds darkened ovehead. The emissaries would go no further.
During some three years the young woman gave birth to six sons and six daughters. Sometime after P’an-hu died, they divided into couples as husband and wife. Weaving and plaiting bark from trees, they colored it with dyes made from grasses and fruits. They were fond of colorful clothing which was tailored in such a way as to allow for a tail-like appendage.
Later, the mother of all of these people returned to her royal home and related her story to the king. When he sent emissaries to meet with the new people, the heavens no longer sent rain.
Their clothes were well-patterned, their speech sounded like foreign music, they squatted while eating and drinking, and they loved the mountains as much as they detested cities. The king, in accordance with their wishes, granted them famed mountains and broad grasslands, and called them by a name meaning “tribal minority.” Today the members of these minority groups seem slow-witted, but are crafty in reality. They like to stay in one place and value their customs. Because they received a different temperament from heaven, they are treated differently by the law. When transporting crops and engaging in trade, they are not required to have tokens of passage through the passes, nor do they pay taxes. Leaders in such cities as they do have are provided with seals of authority by the Han Chinese government. For official caps they wear otter skins, symbolizing the importance of water to their livelihood. The tribes of the modern commanderies of Liang, Han, Pa, Shu, Wu-ling, Ch’ang-sha, and Lu-chiang are all of this group.
Their custom of using fish and meat mixed together with grain, and knocking on their drinking trough while calling out in worship of P’an-hu still exists today. So it is that people say: “Bare thighs and short garments--the sons and grandsons of P’an-hu!”
(SSC 14/341; cf. Hou Han shu 86, p. 2829.)
Tr. Michael Broschat
Note: This is one of the few myths of generation to be found in the SSC; it closely resembles the version given in the Hou Han shu.
For a study of the myth of the origin of the tribe in southwest China and the relationship between Pan-hu and Fu-hsi, see Wen I-to, “Fu-hsi k’ao,” in Shen-hua yü shih (Peking: Ku-chi ch’u-pan-she, 1956), pp. 3-68, esp., pp. 55-68; see also Derk Bodde, “Some Chinese Tales of the Supernatural: Kan Pao and His Sou-shen chi,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 6 (Feb., 1942), 338-57, esp. n. 33, for references to studies of the Pan-hu myth.
1 One of the legendary early emperors. See Shih-chi 1, p. 13. The interpretation of this story is influenced by the parallel account in Hou Han shu 86, p. 2829.
2 Probably the Ch’i Mountains in western Kansu Province.
There is an old story from ancient times of a man who went far from home on an expedition leaving no one at home but his daughter. A stallion they had was cared for personally by this daughter. Living all alone in this isolated place she missed her father terribly, and once joked to the horse, “If you could go bring my father back, I would marry you!”
The horse then took up the challenge, broke its restraining rope and made straight for the place where her father was. He was most pleasantly surprised to see it, and then took hold of it and mounted. The horse kept gazing in the direction from which it had come and whinnying mournfully. “There is no apparent reason why this horse should act this way,” said the father. “Something must be wrong at home!” and he quickly rode home.
When they got back the horse was given extra fodder for its extraordinary concern, but it would not eat. Each time it saw the girl go in and out of the door it would stomp and kick in both joy and anger. And this did not happen only once.
The father found it most strange and secretly questioned the girl. She told her father everything, and they concluded that it must surely be for this reason that the horse was acting up. “Don’t tell anyone,” said her father. “I’m afraid we would disgrace our household. For the time being do not go in or out of the door.” He took up his crossbow and killed the horse, the hide of which he set out in the sun in the courtyard to dry.
Once, when the father had gone, the daughter and a neighbor girl were playing by the hide. Kicking it, the daughter said, “You were just an animal and yet you wanted to marry a human! Why have you brought upon yourself this tragedy of being butchered and skinned?” But she had not even finished speaking before the horsehide rose quickly from the ground, wrapped itself around the girl, and took off. The neighbor girl was in shock and dared not try to save her. She ran to tell her father. When the father returned a search was begun, but they had already disappeared.
Several days later they were found among some branches of a large tree. Both girl and horsehide had been completely transformed into silkworms and had spun silk on the branches. The cocoons were large and thick, much different from those of ordinary silkworms. The neighbor women took them down and raised the silkworms, getting much more silk from them than from ordinary worms.
In consequence, the tree was named sang (mulberry) [homophonous with the word for “mourning”]. From then on the common people strove to plant this kind of tree and it is what we cultivate today.
So when we talk about mulberry silkworms, they in fact come from a breed different from the silkworm of old.
Tr. Michael Broschat
Translator’s Note: The story proper seems to end as above, but the SSC text has another ending tagged onto it, much of which, as pointed out by Wang Shao-ying (SSC, pp. 173-74), is taken from Cheng Hsüan’s commentary to a relevant passage of Chou li (The Rites of Chou). I cannot find an attribution of ch’en to horses in either Shih-chi or Chou li, as stated in the text. The translation of this portion of the text is speculative:
According to the Astronomical Treatise of the Shih chi, ch’en is the “horse star.” The Book of Silkworms says: “When the moon faces ch’en, rinse the silkworm eggs.” This is because silkworms and horses are of the same nature.
In the Rites of Chou,1 there is the line: “Prohibit the second crop of silkworms.” Commentary to that line states: “There cannot be two things larger than one another. By ‘prohibiting the second crop of silkworms,’ one avoids harming horses.”
It was a custom during the Han for the empress herself to gather mulberry leaves, and sacrifice to the silkworm spirits who are called Lady Wan-yü and Princess Yü. The ‘Princess’ is, of course, a term of respect for women, while Lady Wan-yü was the first to cultivate silkworms. So, when people today call silkworms by the name “daughter,” that is a term passed on from olden times.
Editor’s Note: An example of another myth of origin. This story has been incorporated into a poem by Feng Chih (b. 1905) entitled “Ch’an ma” (The Silkworm Horse), in which the image of the horsehide wrapping itself around the girl is likened to that of a cocoon enclosing a silkworm.
1 This attribution is in error; see Wang’s notes, SSC, pp. 173-74.
During the reign of the Shih-huang Emperor [221-209 B.C.] of the Ch’in dynasty, there lived one Wang Tao-p’ing, a native of Ch’ang-an. While a youth, Wang and Wen-yü,1 who was the daughter of T’ang Shu-chieh from the same village and was beautiful both in features and in bearing, swore to be husband and wife. Shortly afterwards Wang Tao-p’ing was conscripted for a campaign, and for nine years was detained in the south. Seeing that their daughter had grown up, Wen-yü’s parents promised her in marriage to Liu Hsiang. Their daughter, serious about her sworn love for Tao-p’ing, resisted the idea. When her parents pressured her, however, she could not but choose to marry Liu Hsiang. Three years passed, and all the while Wen-yü was depressed and unhappy. She thought of Tao-p’ing so often, and her bitterness and grief grew so deep that she finally died of a broken heart.
Three years after her death, Tao-p’ing returned home. He inquired of a neighbor about Wen-yü. The neighbor replied, “She loved you deeply, but, compelled by her parents, she married Liu Hsiang. Now she’s dead.” Tao-p’ing asked the whereabouts of the tomb, and the neighbor took him to the grave site.
There Tao-p’ing wailed and moaned, cried and howled. Three times he called the girl’s name, while walking around the tomb, distracted by his great grief. Finally Tao-p’ing made a wish, “We swore by heaven and earth to keep each other for life. Who would have expected the intervention of the official duty which severed us and made your parents marry you to Liu Hsiang. We didn’t plan it that way, and now we are separated forever. If your spirit still exists, let me see you for one last time: if you don’t have a spirit, then farewell forever!” With this he wailed again.
After a few moments, the girl’s soul appeared from the tomb and asked Tao-p’ing, “Where did you come from? We have been separated for such a long time. I did swear to be your wife for life, but I was forced by my parents to marry Liu Hsiang. For three years I thought of you day and night until growing remorse cost me my life. Now I am severed from you by the underworld. My thoughts for you did not cease with my death; I still seek to fulfill our love. My body is still intact, and I can come to life again and still be your wife. Open the tomb now and break the coffin. Get me out and I shall live again!”
Having considered what she said, Tao-p’ing opened the door of the tomb. He examined the girl only to find that she was alive! She then returned home with Tao-p’ing.
Astonished by this, Liu Hsiang, her husband, filed a suit with the prefect. The prefect checked the laws but was unable to find anything applicable to the case. He reported to the emperor. The emperor decided that she should be the wife of Tao-p’ing. She lived to be one hundred and thirty.
Surely this was a case of sincerity so intense that it moved heaven and earth to bring about such a result.
Tr. Perng Ching-hsi
Note: This entry presents another variation on the necromantic theme. As Wang Shao-ying suggests, this story may have been taken from Kou Tao-hsing’s Sou-shen hou-chi (see SSHC, p. 130); Kou’s version in turn seeems to be an elaboration of entry 15/360 of SSC. The piece thus represents an interesting case in which textual derivation is interconnected with the history of the compilation of the 20-chüan SSC.
1 In the SSC text, the girl’s name is Fu-yü; change made according to the Pai-hai text.--Ed.
During the Chien-an reign [196-220] of Emperor Hsien of the Han dynasty, Chia Yü of Nan-yang [in modern Honan Province], whose courtesy name was Wen-ho, died of a disease. When he was brought to Mount T’ai by an underworld official,1 the Controller of Life checked his own books and said to the officer, “You were supposed to bring me the Wen-ho of another county; why did you bring in this man? Send him away immediately.”
It was sundown, so Wen-ho lay down under a tree outside the wall for the night. He saw a young girl coming towards him by herself and asked her, “You seem to come from a good family. Why are you walking abroad? What is your name?” The girl replied, “I am a native of San-ho [in modern Kweichow Province]. My father is the prefect of Yi-yang [modern Huang-ch’uan County, Honan]. I was brought here yesterday, but today they set me free. Now it is already sundown, and I would like to avoid any compromising circumstances. Judging by your appearance, you must be a virtuous person. That’s why I have stopped, hoping for protection by staying at your side.” Weh-ho said, “My heart is already charmed by you. Let us begin our joyful communion tonight.” The girl answered, “I have heard from my aunts that chastity is a girl’s virtue, and purity her good name.” Thus, despite Weh-ho’s repeated entreaties, she remained unmoved. When dawn came, they went their separate ways. Now, as Wen-ho had been dead for two days, the wake was already over. About to bury him, someone noticed that the color was returning to his face. They felt below his heart and found it was warm. Moments later he came to.
Later, Wen-ho went to Yi-yang to verify what he had experienced. He presented his calling card to the prefect and asked, “Did your daughter pass away and then revive?” He then went on to describe the girl’s countenance and bearing, dress and coloring, and how he had repeatedly propositioned her. The prefect went inside to ask his daughter. Her answer matched Wen-ho’s description exactly. Greatly surprised, he married his daughter to Wen-ho.
Tr. Perng Ching-hsi
Note: The moral of the story is: if the precepts of proper conduct prevail in the underworld, how much more should they be observed in the human world.
1 The Lord of Mt. T’ai is in charge of the souls of t he dead; see “Chiang Chi’s Dead Son” (1), n. 2.--Ed.
Sometime in the second month of the fourth year of the Chien-an reign [196-220], a sixty-year-old woman, Li O from Ch’ung County in Wu-ling [approximately modern Hunan], died of an illness. At the time of this story she had already been buried outside the city for fourteen days.
She had a neighbor by the name of Ts’ai Chung, who knew that Li O was rich. Reckoning that she must have been buried with money and treasures, he went and forced open the grave to look for the loot. He used an axe to open the casket, but after several blows he heard Li O speaking from within the casket, “Ts’ai Chung, watch out for my head!” Ts’ai was terror-stricken and fled the scene immediately. It happened that he was seen by a county official and was brought in for punishment. According to the law, he should have been executed in the market place.
Now Li O’s son went to remove his mother as soon as he heard she was alive and took her home. When the Grand Administrator of Wu-ling heard that Li O had been resurrected, he summoned her and inquired about what had happened.
“I heard,” replied Li O, “that the Arbiter of Life had mistakenly summoned me. When I got there I was then sent back. As I passed out of the western gates I happened to see my cousin, Liu Po-wen. We were both startled and asked about each other’s situation, with tears falling in sorrow and sadness.
“‘Po-wen,’ I said, ‘one day I was mistakenly summoned here and have now been sent to return home, but since I do not know the way, I can’t walk by myself. Could you possibly get an escort for me? Also, it’s already been more than ten days since I was called here, and my body has been interred by my family. When I return, how am I going to get out?’
“‘I will ask for you,’ said Po-wen. He then sent the porter to inquire of the Chancellor of the Bureau of Households: ‘The Arbiter of Life mistakenly summoned the woman Li O of Wu-ling and now she is being sent back. She has been here for several days. Her body has lost its life and been buried. What should she do in order to get out? Moreover, she is weak and must walk alone. Shouldn’t she have an escort? She is my cousin and you would be doing me a great favor if you could take care of this.’ The chancellor replied, ‘There is a man named Li Hei from the western district of Wu-ling who is also being sent back. He can be her escort. At the same time, tell Li Hei to pass by Li O’s neighbor, Ts’ai Chung, and have him free her.’
“Then I was able to leave. When I said goodbye to Po-wen, he said to me, ‘I’m writing a letter for you to give to my son, T’o.’
“Then I came home with Li Hei, and that’s the way it was.
“One certainly doesn’t know all that goes on in the world,” sighed the Grand Administrator when he had heard the story. He then sent a memorial to the throne: “Although Ts’ai Chung did indeed break into the grave, he was made to do so by ghosts and spirits. He couldn’t have helped it, even if he hadn’t wanted to break in. It would be appropriate to be lenient in this case.” The imperial decree granted a lenient treatment.
Personally, however, the Grand Administrator wished to determine the validity of the story, and so sent an official on horseback to interrogate Li Hei in the western district. Li’s story was found to corroborate the tale.
Liu Po-wen’s letter was then given to his son T’o, who recognized the paper as having been among the writing materials in a box buried at the time of Po-wen’s death. There was clearly writing still on the letter, but no one understood the script. At that, Fei Ch’ang-fang1 was asked to read it.
“Dear T’o: I must accompany the Lord of the Underworld on a tour of inspection and should be at the watercourse in the southern part of Wu-ling at noon on the eighth day of the eighth month. Be sure to be there.”
At the appointed time, T’o, who had brought his whole family, awaited his deceased father. In a short while, he did indeed arrive. They heard the faint sounds of men and horses, and when they went to the water they heard a shout: “T’o, you’ve come! Did you get the letter I sent with Li O?” T’o answered, “It’s because we got it that we’re here!” Po-wen then asked about all of the family members one by one. Mournful and subdued, he said, “Life and death are two different paths, so I don’t often get news of you. Since I passed away my grandchildren have really become numerous!”
Only after quite a while did Po-wen say to T’o again, “This coming spring there will be much sickness. I’ll give you this pellet of medicine with which you should smear the gates and doors. That way you will avoid the terrible plague next year.” He left suddenly after speaking, without showing himself to the family.
That next spring there was indeed a great epidemic. Ghosts could be seen in broad day light. Only to the home of T’o did they not dare to go.
When Fei Ch’ang-fang inspected the medicine ball, he said, “This is the brain of Fan-hsiang, the god who protects against pestilence.”2
(SSC 15/362; cf. Hou Han shu chih 17, pp. 3348-49)
Tr. Michael Broschat
Note: This story displays a combination of the themes of “resurrection” and “communication with the dead” (cf. “Hu-mu Pan”  and “Chia Yü” ), both of which are vividly depicted.
The grave-robbing mentioned in the story may reflect a common practice of the time.
1 Fei Ch’ang-fang was a famous necromancer (fang-shih) of the Later Han dynasty, known for his ability to summon spirits and ghosts; he has a biography in Hou Han shu, but it seems purely legendary in nature. He was from Ju-nan in modern Honan.
2 The text of this story is given virtually word for word in Liu Chao’s (fl. 502-519) commentary in the Hou Han shu. Several characters appear more reasonable, so t he HHS text has been followed throughout.
Ho Ch’ang of the Han Dynasty, a native of Chiu-chiang [modern Shou County, Anhwei], was Inspector of Chiao Province [modern Ts’ang-wu County, Kwangsi].1 He went on a tour of inspection to Kao-an County,2 Ts’ang-wu Commandery [northern Annam], staying the night once in the Pavilion of Running Snowgeese. Before the night was even half over, a woman appeared from beneath the building, calling out, “My name is Su O, courtesy name Shih-chu, and I lived originally in Hsiu-li village, Kuang-hsin County [one of the ten counties in Ts’ang-wu Commandery]. I lost my parents early, and have no brothers, but married into the Shih family of the same county. Due to my ill fate, my husband died too, leaving only various silks totalling one hundred and twenty rolls and a slave girl named Fetch Wealth.
“Thus, I was orphaned, deprived, and weak, and there was no way of sustaining myself. So I decided to go to the neighboring county to sell the silk. I rented a cart and ox from a fellow countyman, Wang Po, at a price of twelve thousand cash. Being myself on the bed of the cart with the silk, I had Fetch Wealth take the reins. We arrived outside this pavilion last year, on the tenth day of the fourth month.
“It was almost dark; no travelers could be seen on the road. We dared not go further but decided to put up here. Fetch Wealth suddenly had a bad stomach cramp so I went to the house of the Precinct Head to beg water and fire. The Precinct Head came to our cart carrying a spear and halberd, and asked me, ‘Where have you come from, young lady, and what have you got in your cart there? Isn’t your husband here? How is it you’re traveling alone?’
‘Why are you so interested?’ I replied. “Then he grabbed my arm and said, ‘A young man appreciates a fair woman: I hope to find pleasure in you. ‘I was terrified and wouldn’t go with him.
“He then grabbed his knife and stabbed me in the side. I was dead with one blow. He also stabbed Fetch Wealth, who died as well. Then he dug a hole near the base of the building and buried me undeneath, my maid on top, took our goods, and left. Thereafter, he killed the ox and burned the cart, throwing the metal hubs and the ox bones into an empty well east of the pavilion.
“I have died an unjust death, the grievance of which could move even Heaven. Yet I have no one to plead my case, so I have come on my own to reveal the situation to you.”
Ch’ang said, “I’d like to exhume your corpse. But is there any proof that it is you?”
“I was dressed completely in white, with green silk slippers, none of which has yet deteriorated. I hope that you will inquire at my native village and have my bones returned to my dead husband.”
And with a little digging, it proved to be so. Ch’ang hurried home and sent out officials to apprehend Kung Shou, who under torture admitted all. He then went to Kuang-hsin County to investigate the case; what he found accorded with Su O’s story.
Shou, together with his parents and brothers, was imprisoned. In his official report to the emperor about Kung Shou, Ch’ang said, “Under normal conditions murder does not involve punishment of the whole family, but Kung Shou showed himself vicious to the highest degree. He has hidden his crime for many years, and the king’s law has not been able to bring him to justice thus far. Seldom is it necessary, even once in a thousand years, for a ghost to plead its own case. Thus I request executing them all in order to testify to the existence of spirits and ghosts, and to aid other-worldly punishment.”
The emperor followed his recommendations.
(SSC 16/348; TPYL, 884.3927a; TPHYC, 159, 393b-394a)
Tr. Michael Broschat
Note: This is basically a story about the “rectification of an unjust death.” The unfolding of the murder in the ghost’s own words adds a touch of realism in its detailed account. The plot is prototypical of some types of detective stories developed in later vernacular fiction.
1 Other versions of this story give the name of Ho Ch’ang as Chou Ch’ang. While Ho is fairly well known (died A.D. 105), none of the events or places given in this story in any way fit what we know of him. That other versions give the surname Chou might indicate that Ho Ch’ang is not the original hero of this story.
2 This should be Kao-yao (in modern Canton).
Ch’in Chü-po, of Lang-ya [southeast of modern Chu-ch’eng County, Shantung], was sixty. Once he walked at night while drinking. Going by the P’eng-shan Temple, he was surprised to see his two grandchildren coming to greet him. However, having helped him for a hundred paces or so, they grabbed his neck, pushed him to the ground, and one of them cursed, “Old slave, you clobbered me on such and such a date, and I am going to kill you now!” Chü-po remembered that he had beaten the child on that specific date. He therefore feigned death, and they left him there.
Returning home, Chü-po was going to punish the two grandchildren, but, shocked, they both kowtowed and protested, saying, “How could we, your own flesh and blood, possibly have done such a deed? It must have been some demons. Please test them again.” Chü-po saw what they meant.
A few days later, he pretended to be drunk and passed by the same temple. Again he saw the two grandchildren coming to help him. Chü-po quickly grabbed them, holding them so tight that the demons could not move. Upon returning home, he found them to be two figurines. He burned them until they were scorched and cracked, front and back. He then left them out in the yard. At night they both fled. Chü-po reproached himself for not having slain them.
More than a month later he once again feigned drunkenness and walked home at night, carrying a sword with him. However, he kept this secret from his family. As it grew very late and he was still not home, his grandchildren, fearing that he might be bothered by the same demons again, went together to fetch him. Chü-po stabbed them to death.
Tr. Perng Ching-hsi
Note: The source of this story is the “I-ssu” (Delusion) chapter of Lü-shih ch’un-ch’iu (The Chronicle of Lü-shih) (SPTK ed.), 22, 161b, where the relationship between the human characters is identified as that of father and sons.
The impact of the story is enhanced by its laconic style. The encounter with the ghosts is reminiscent of “Sung Ting-po” (3), but the comic mood there is replaced here by a tragic one owing to the different turn of affairs at the end. The moral seems to be: when the supernatural is not understood and dealt with properly, it may become a source of disaster.
King Fu Ch’ai of Wu [r. 495-473 B.C.] had an eighteen-year-old daughter named Purple Jade who was intelligent and attractive. There was a nineteen-year-old youth by the name of Han Chung who was knowledgeable in Taoist arts. The girl liked him, and after secret meetings and an exchange of confidences, she agreed to marry him. Han was to study in the region of Ch’i and Lu,1 and as he was about to leave he requested his parents to ask for her hand in marriage.
The king was angry and refused to give his daughter. As a consequence, Purple Jade died from grief and was buried outside the main gate of the palace.
Three years passed and Han Chung returned. He inquired of his parents, and they told him, “The king was enraged, and the girl died from grief. She’s been buried for some time.”
Han Chung cried with great sorrow and, preparing a sacrificial animal and some funerary paper money, went to mourn by her tomb. The soul of Purple jade came out from the tomb and, seeing Han Chung, said in tears, “After you left, your parents came to ask the king for my hand. It seemed that we would certainly realize our wish. But who would have thought that after we parted I should meet my death. What is one to do?” She then turned her head to one side and sang,
There is a crow in the southern mountain,
And a net spread over the mountain in the north.
But the crow flies away;
What can that net do?
It was my wish to follow you,
But slanderous talk was too much.
Grief brought on an illness,
And I ended my life beneath the Yellow Mound.
That my fate was ill--
Whose fault is this injustice?
The finest of the feathered creatures,
Is known by the name of phoenix.
If on one day the male is lost,
It grieves for three full years.
Though there are many other birds around,
There is no one to be her mate.
Thus I present a miserable appearance,
To meet with you so resplendent.
So far apart, my heart is still with you.
How could I forget you even for a brief moment!”
The song finished, she broke into sobs, and asked Han Chung to return with her to the tomb. “The dead and the living travel different paths,” Han said. “I fear I would be transgressing by doing so; I dare not agree to your request.” “The dead and the living travel different paths,” she said. “I too know that. But once we part today, we will never meet again. Do you fear that I will harm you as a ghost? I am sincere in my affection for you. Could it be that you don’t believe me?”
Moved by her words, Han Chung escorted her back to the tomb. There Purple Jade provided him with drink and feast, and he stayed for three days and nights, during which time they completed the rites of husband and wife. As Han was about to go, Purple Jade brought out a brilliant pearl a full inch in diameter to give him, saying, “Now my name has been sullied, and my wishes denied, what else is there to say? Take care of yourself hereafter. Should you happen to go by my home, give my respects to my father.”
When Han came out he did indeed go to see the king, to whom he told what had happened. In great anger the king said, “My daughter is already dead; Han Chung is but fabricating a lie to slander a departed soul! This is nothing more than opening the grave to steal the treasure, and then sheltering himself under the pretense of having seen ghosts and spirits!” The king made a quick move to arrest Han Chung, but he got away and went to Purple Jade’s tomb to tell her. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll go now to explain to my father.”
The king was grooming himself when suddenly he saw Purple Jade. Startled and shocked, he was happy but also grieved. “How is it that you have come back to life?” he asked.
Kneeling, Purple Jade replied, “In the past the student Han Chung came to ask for my hand, but you refused. My name was sullied and my hopes dashed, finally resulting in my death. Han Chung returned from far away, and hearing that I was already dead, brought gifts for the dead to my grave in mourning. Moved by his deep sincerity, I appeared to him and subsequently presented the pearl to him. He did not break into the grave, and I hope that you do not prosecute him.”
The king’s wife overheard her daughter’s voice and came out to embrace her, but Purple Jade disappeared like smoke.
Tr. Michael Broschat
Note: See Introduction, Sec. IV, for a discussion of the structural features of the story.
1 This region, roughly the area of Shantung Province, was the location of the school of Confucius.
Lu Ch’ung was from Fan-yang [near modern Peking]. Some thirty li west of his family home was the tomb of Privy Treasurer Ts’ui. When Ch’ung was twenty, he went off hunting to the west on the day before the winter solstice.1 When he saw a river-deer, he drew his bow and took aim. He hit it and it fell, but then rose again. Lu set off after it, not realizing he was going quite far.
Suddenly, he saw a lone settlement north of the road. It had high gates and tiled roofs all around, just like government offices. He had, however, lost sight of the river-deer. A guard standing by the gate sang out: “Please come in!” “What offices are these?” Lu Ch’ung inquired. “The offices of the Privy Treasurer,” the guard replied. “My clothes are objectionable,” said Lu. “How could I dare to see the Treasurer?” Then another man, presenting a bundle of new clothing, said, “The Treasurer has made these available to you.” Lu then dressed for an audience, and went in to see the Privy Treasurer where he stated his name.
After a few rounds of wine, the Treasurer said to Lu, “Your deceased father has not considered my family lowly. He recently sent me a letter asking my youngest daughter’s hand for you. That is why I have invited you to come here.” Although Lu was quite young when his father passed away, he had by then learned to recognize his father’s handwriting. He sobbed woefully and offered no protests.
The treasurer then sent orders within: “Young Mr. Lu has arrived. Have the young lady begin her makeup.” Then to Lu he said, “You may proceed to the eastern hall.”
At sunset a message from the inner chamber was sent to say, “The young lady has finished her preparations.” From the eastern hall Lu saw the bride descend from her carriage. Standing at each end of the mat they bowed to each other.
The festivities lasted for three days, during which time a feast was provided. When that was over, Ts’ui said to Lu Ch’ung, “You may return home now. The bride has shown to be pregnant. Should she produce a boy, it will be turned over to you; have no fear. Should it be a girl, we will keep it for ourselves.” Ts’ui then ordered a carriage for the guest. Lu bade farewell and left. Ts’ui’s daughter saw him to the main gate where she took his hand and both shed tears. Going out of the gates, Lu saw an ox cart harnessed to a blue ox, while the clothes he had worn previously, along with the bow and arrows, were also still there outside the gate.
Ts’ui then relayed instructions to someone, who brought forward a bundle of clothes. Exchanging comments with Lu, he said, “The marriage relation has just been formed, and to part so soon is very sad. I’m giving you another set of clothes together with a roll of bedding.”
Lu got onto the cart which seemed to move as quickly as lightning. Soon he was back at his own home and his family members were relieved. Amidst the questions and answers, he discovered that Ts’ui was already dead, and felt remorseful at having entered his tomb.
Four years after his departure from the tomb, on the third day of the third month,2 Lu Ch’ung was gamboling about in the river when he suddenly saw two ox carts on the river bank which appeared to him to be bobbing up and down. Then they drew close to the bank--as Lu’s companions all witnessed. When Lu went over and opened the back door of one of the carts, he saw the young woman from the Ts’ui family together with a three-year-old boy. He was delighted to see them and was about to take her hand when she pointed instead to the cart behind her, saying, “The Treasurer wants to see you.” Having gone over to pay his respects to the Treasurer, Lu then came back to inquire of the girl. She held the child up to give it to him and then handed him a bowl made of gold, with which she presented a poem as well:
Shining, bright, an Angelwort3 so pure;
Resplendent beauty, oh so attractive
A gorgeous blossom, brilliant in its time.
Its especial fineness shows a spiritual wonder.
Containing gems of beauty, it has not yet attained full bloom.
In mid-summer it meets with frost and falls away.
Its radiant aspect, hence forever extinguished, in darkness.
Never have I traveled the roads of the human world,
And not been aware of the workings of yin and yang,
Yet a superior man unexpectedly came to call.
Our meeting was brief, our parting quick;
All was controlled by spirits and gods.
What can I give to my beloved?
A bowl of gold and a lovely child.
For all our love and care, we shall be forever parted.
Great sorrow breaks my heart.
When Lu had taken the child, the bowl, and the poem, the two carts suddenly disappeared. When he took the child back, all said that it was either a ghost or a goblin. But spitting on the child produced no change in its appearance.4 Then they asked of the child, “Who is your father?” The boy walked straight over to Lu Ch’ung’s arms.
At the beginning people felt repulsed by the weirdness of the entire affair. Then as they read and circulated the poem, they began to be moved by this example of the mysterious communication between life and death.
Lu later mounted his vehicle and went to the market to sell the bowl. He kept the asking price high, not wishing to sell it quickly, hoping that someone would recognize it. An old female servant did recognize it and went home to inform her mistress, “There is a man in the marketplace riding in a cart who offered for sale the bowl from the coffin of the girl of the Ts’ui family!” Her mistress was a sister of the Ts’ui family. She sent her son to see about it, and sure enough it was as the old servant had said.
Getting up on the cart, he announced his name and spoke to Lu, “In former times my aunt married the Privy Treasurer. She gave birth to a daughter, but the girl died before she was married. My mother was sad at this and gave a golden bowl as a gift, which was laid in the coffin. May I hear how you came by it?” Lu told him the story. This provoked a sad sigh from the lad as well.
Then he returned to tell his mother. She set out to visit Lu Ch’ung’s household where she met the child and examined him. All the various relatives had gathered. The boy had the appearance of the Ts’ui family, but also that of Lu Ch’ung. The child and bowl were all evidence, and the aunt said, “My niece was born toward the end of the third month of the year. Before the birth the father said, ‘Spring is warm (quen) and we would have wished her to be good (xiou) and strong,’ so they named her Quan-xiou [Wen-hsiu in modern pronunciation], or ‘Warm-goodness.’ The name was portentous of what was to happen.”5
The boy then grew up to be a man of talent and rose in the course of his career to the rank of Commandery Administrator with a stipend of two thousand tan.6 His sons and grandsons were all officials, and the line has continued to the present day. One descendent, Lu Chih, style name Tzu-kan, was quite famous throughout the empire.7
(SSC 16/397; cf. TPKC, 316.4)
Tr. Michael Broschat
Note: In this story, the phenomenon of necromantic marriage is combined with ch’an-wei notion of “predestination,” which includes a belief that the configuration of a person’s name may predetermine the person’s fate.
1 This was the time when the powers of ghosts and spirits were at their height, just before their exorcism. See Derk Bodde, Festivals in Classical China (Princeton:Princeton Univ. Press, 1975), esp. the section concerning “La.” Cf. William G. Boltz, “Philological Footnotes to the Han New Year Rites,” JAOS, 99:3 (1979), 423-39.
2 The Lustration Festival, a day on which people cleansed themselves and prayed to drive off evil. See Bodde, p.273-88.
3 I.e., ling-chih, or Ganoderma lucidum, a kind of tree fungus with a shiny surface.
4 See “Sung Ting-po”(3) for the supposed effect of spitting on ghosts.--Ed.
5 The name is portentous because the shuang-fan of /quən/ and /xiou/ produced by the double application of the fan-ch’ieh spelling process, once in each direction (combining the initial of / quən/ with the final of /xiou/and the initial of /xiou/ with the final of /quən/), results in the new word pair /qiou/ /xuən/, which means “afterworld marriage.” The word for “afterworld” (lit. “dark”) should be /qiəu/ (/yu/ in modern pronunciation) but in the Six Dynasties, /-iou/ and /-iəu/ were treated as belonging to the same rhyming category. I am grateful to Professor Hugh Stimson for his help with this note.--Ed.
6 See Hans Bielenstein, The Bureaucracy of Han Times (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1980) for these titles and their significance. The tan is a dry measure for grain, as well as a weight of 133.33 pounds.
7 See Hou Han shu 64, p. 2113.
Of old in the state of Shu [220-280] there was a native of Chia-hsing [in modern Chekiang Province, between Hangchow and Shanghai] by the name of Ni Yen-ssu, who lived in the western outskirts of that county seat. One day he discovered that a ghost or goblin had entered his house. It conversed with people there, and ate and drank like a human, but it was invisible!
Now among Ni’s servants there was one maid who was always cursing the mistress of the house behind her back. The ghost said, “I will report you to the master!” Ni punished the servant, and there was no one who dared again to curse the masters behind their backs.
Ni had a young concubine, and the goblin asked for her, so Ni finally invited a Taoist adept to exorcise it. When wine and cooked meat were all set out, the goblin took straw and excrement from the privy and smeared it all over the food. Then the Taoist began furiously beating his drum, summoning the various gods to help. The goblin picked up a chamber pot, and blew on it to produce the sound of a bugle from above the altar. Shortly, the Taoist felt something cold traveling down his back. Startled, he took off his robe, only to discover the chamber pot. With that, the Taoist quit and left.
That night Ni and his wife talked secretly beneath the blankets, venting their vexation about the presence of the goblin. From high on the ceiling beams, the goblin addressed Ni, “You and your wife are maligning me, so I shall cut up your beams!” Chop, chop, began the sound.
Ni was terrified that the rafter would break, so he got a torch to take a look. But the goblin blew it out, and the cutting sounds became more intense. Now afraid the room would cave in, he ordered all the family to evacuate the house and then fetched a torch again. He saw that the rafter was just as usual. With a great laugh the goblin asked of Ni, “Are you going to bad-mouth me again?”
When the Commandery Director of Agriculture heard of all this he said, “This spirit surely is just a lowly creature like the fox.” Thereupon the goblin went over to him and said, “You took several hundred bushels of grain from your office and secreted them away somewhere. How dare a corrupt official like you talk about me? I am going to report your crime to your superior and have them get back the grain you stole.” Greatly frightened, the Director of Agriculture apologized.
From then on no one dared talk about the goblin. After some three years it left; no one knows where it went.
Tr. Michael Broschat
Note: When the ghost or goblin is mischievous like the one presented here, the true origin of the supernatural begins to reveal itself. This piece is an exception to the general rule that the supernatural in CK is to be taken as real. A satiric projection seems to be at work here.
Chang Hua, styled Mao-hsien, was Minister of Public Works in the time of Emperor Hui [r. 290-307] of the Chin. One day there appeared a speckled fox in front of the tomb of King Chao of Yen [290-259 B.C.]. It was very old and could transform itself. In this instance it changed into a student who wished to go see Chang Hua.
On the way it inquired of the spirit of the memorial post in front of the tomb, “Judging from my talent and appearance, do you think I am qualified to see Minister Chang?”
“With your extraordinary intelligence, there should be nothing you cannot accomplish,” replied the post, “But Chang is very wise and perceptive, and I think he’ll be very difficult to ensnare. You will certainly meet with disgrace if you go and probably won’t be able to come back. Not only will you lose your virtue attained only with a thousand years’ cultivation, but you will involve me in an unpleasant manner as well.”
The fox paid no heed but, visiting card in hand, went off to meet with Chang. When Chang saw his youthful elegance, clean and light like jade, and that he was dignified in manner, self-confident and poised, he truly respected him. When they talked about literature, the student’s critical acuity became clear. Hua had never heard the like before. Then they talked of the three histories,1 investigated the hundred philosophies, discussed obscure passages in Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu, elucidated the arcane meaning of the Feng and Ya sections of the Shih ching embraced the ten sages,2 plumbed the three factors,3 probed the eight schools of Confucianism,4 and examined the five rites.5 Hua was always bested.
Sighing, he said, “How could there be a youth like this in the world? If he is neither a ghost nor goblin, then he is surely a fox!” Chang then stationed men to guard him, even as he was receiving him as his guest.
“You ought to revere the worthy and embrace the masses,” said the student, “and treat well the good while pitying the incapable. But instead, you hate others who are learned. Mo-tzu loved all. Would he act like this! Having finished his speech, he sought to leave, but Hua had already set men at the doors, and he could not get out.
He then addressed Hua once again, “There are men and horsemen stationed at your gates. That must mean you are suspicious of me. I fear that in the future men of the world will keep their tongues to themselves. Wise scholars and clever counselors will glance at your gates but will not come in. I find this possibility deeply regretable for you.” Hua did not even reply, but put his men even more on their guard.
In time, Prefect Lei Huan of Feng-ch’eng [modern Nan-ch’ang County, Kiangsi], styled K’ung-chang, a scholar of profound knowledge, came to visit Hua. When Hua told him about the scholar, K’ung-chang said, “If you are suspicious, why not call the hunting dogs to test him?” And so Hua ordered the hunting dogs out for a test.
With no expression of fear whatsoever, the fox said, “I am by nature talented and knowledgeable, but now for some reason you consider me an evil spirit and try to test me with dogs. Even if you should test me, could I be worried?”
When Hua heard this, he became even more angry. “This must truly be an evil genius,” he said. “I’ve heard that forest goblins fear dogs, but that dogs can only detect creatures of up to a few hundred years of age. They cannot discover thousand-year-old spirits. Only by getting a thousand-year-old tree and illuminating the creature with it can its true form be made apparent.” “How can we find a thousand-year-old spirit tree?” asked K’ung-chang. “It is said that the memorial post in front of the tomb of King Chao of Yen is already a thousand years old,” replied Hua. He then sent someone to chop down the wooden post.
When the servant was about to reach the place where the post was, a small child clad in green appeared from nowhere and inquired of the servant, “Why have you come here?” “A youth came to visit Minister Chang,” said the servant. “He is of extraordinary talent and has a way with words. The suspicion is that the youth is an evil goblin, and I have been sent to obtain this memorial post with which to illuminate him.” “So, the old fox was not so wise after all,” said the green-clad one. “He didn’t listen to me. Now today his mistake has involved me as well. How can I escape?” He let out a yell and began to cry; then suddenly disappeared. When the servant cut down the post, blood flowed.
He then returned with the tree, whereupon it was ignited and used to illuminate the student. He turned out to be a speckled fox.
“If these two creatures had not happened upon me,” said Chang Hua, “They would not have met their match for another thousand years!” They then cooked the fox.
(SSC 18/421; cf. TPKC, 442.11; Pai-hai version in SSHC, p. 90)
Tr. Michael Broschat
Note: See Introduction, Sec. IV, for a discussion of this story. On Chinese legends of fox fairies, see J. J. M. De Groot, The Religious System of China, vol 4 (Leyden, 1901), pp. 188-96; vol. 5 (Leyden, 1907), pp. 576-600; see also Bodde, “Some Chinese Tales of the Supernatural.”
At this stage in the development of Chinese folklore, fox fairies are generally regarded as inimical to humans. In later representations, after the T’ang, they tend to become friendly and to appear as females when they take up the human form, often just to seduce men. In their dealings with men, they often desire nothing more than love and affection from them. In fact, they look suspiciously like humans, and it is only their yearning for sexual fulfillment that makes them “foxy.”
1 The Shih chi, Han shu and Tung-kuan Han-chi (a history of the Later Han compiled by Pan Ku and others, Tung-kuan being the name of the hall where the compilation took place).--Ed.
2 The ten disciples of Confucius: Yen Hui (Tzu-yüan), Min Hsün (Tzu-ch’ien), Jan Keng (Po-niu), Jan Yung (Ch’ung-kung), Chai Yü (Tzu-wo), Tuan-mu Ssu (Tzu-kung), Jan Ch’iu (Tzu-yu), Chung Yu (Tzu-lu), Yen Yen (Tzu-yu), and Pu Shang (Tzu-hsia).--Ed.
3 Heaven, Earth, and Man.--Ed.
4 Those related to the names of Tzu-chang, Tzu-ssu, Yen, Meng, Ch’i-tiao, Chung-liang, Sun, and Yüeh-cheng.--Ed.
5 The rites of sacrifice, marriage, burial, and diplomatic and military protocol.--Ed.
During the Chin Dynasty, in Wu-hsing [Chekiang Province] there was a man who had two sons. On a number of occasions when they were at work in the fields, their father showed up, scolded them, cursed them, chased them around, and beat them. The boys reported this to their mother, and she in turn questioned the father about it. He was astonished, but he realized it must have been a demon, so he ordered his sons to slay it.
The demon, however, kept to itself and did not put in another appearance. At home the father was worried, fearing that his sons might be suffering some trouble at the demon’s hands. So he went out to the fields to see for himself, whereupon his sons took him to be the demon, killed and buried him on the spot.
The demon then reappeared, took on a likeness of the father, and proceeded to report to the rest of the family that the boys had taken care of the problem. The sons returned at dusk and they all celebrated together. For many years not one of them realized what had actually happened.
Sometime later a priest passing by the house remarked to the boys, “Your father has a very malevolent aura about him.” They went in and reported this to their father, who forthwith flew into a rage. The boys went outside and told the priest to move on, but he instead walked right into the house chanting an incantation. The father was immediately transformed into a large fox and scurried under the bed where they were able to corner and kill him. Only then did they realize that earlier they had slain their own father. They reburied him with a proper funeral, but one son killed himself because of what they had done, and the other died of remorse soon after.
(SSC 18/422; cf. FYCL, 42.498b)
Tr. Kenneth J. DeWoskin
Note: This story is classified in its original context in the SSC as dealing with the anomalies of fox spirits. It is tempting, however, to see a psychological dimension in the patricide motif here; cf. “Ch’in Chü-po” (20).
Mount Yung-ling is situated in Min-chung Province in Tung-yüeh [present day Fukien]. It is over twenty li high. In a crevice on its northwest side there lives a giant serpent, between seventy and eighty feet long and more than ten feet around. The local people lived in constant terror of it, and commanders from the Tung-chih garrison as well as local officials from the surrounding towns had perished in substantial numbers. Oxen and sheep were sacrificed to the serpent, but to no avail. Either from someone’s dreams or from a sorceress it was learned that the serpent would only be satisfied if it were given nubile girls to devour. The commander and local officials agonized over this prospect, but the baneful influences continued unabated.
As a result, they sought out daughters born to slaves and daughters born to criminals and reared them to the age of puberty. On the first day of the eighth month, they conducted a ceremony and sent one young girl off to the mouth of the serpent’s cave. The serpent emerged and gobbled her down; and so it continued for several years until nine girls in all had been consumed.
But one year they began their preparations for the event, and discovered in their search for the young girl, that there were none to be found. The family of Li Tan, which lived in the prefecture of Chiang-lo [modern Nan-p’ing County, Fukien] had six daughters and not a single son. The youngest girl, named Chi, wanted to answer the call and go off, but her parents would not hear of it. She argued, “Father and Mother, you have been accursed; six children you have begotten but not a single son. You have offspring, but it is as though you have none at all. Lacking the virtue of T’i-ying,1 I cannot feed and look after you. There is no point in your wasting food and clothing on me; my life is of benefit to no one, and the sooner I die the better. Now, if you were to sell me, it would mean a little money which you could well use to support yourselves. Wouldn’t that be for the best?”
Her mother and father were altogether too fond of her to do that, and to the end they were not willing to let her go. But Chi slipped out on her own accord, and they were powerless to stop her. Chi requested from an official a well-sharpened sword and a dog which would attack snakes. On the first day of the eighth month, she went to the serpent’s shrine and sat down inside. Chi had prepared in advance several measures of steamed rice balls, soaked with a mixture of honey and coated with roasted barley flour. She placed these in front of the serpent’s cave, and it emerged. Its head was as large as a grain bin, and its eyes were like mirrors, a full two feet across. The serpent picked up the scent of the rice balls first and went to eat them. That was the moment Chi released the dog. He leaped forward and sunk his teeth into the creature. Chi attacked from behind, striking again and again with her sword. The pain from the wounds was so severe that the serpent squirmed out, slithered as far as the shrine, and died.
Chi went into the cave and found the bones of the nine girls. She gathered them up and carried them outside. “Because you were timid and weak, you were devoured by the serpent,” she cried. “It is really a great pity!” And then she made her way home in a leisurely fashion.
When the King of Yüeh heard this tale he summoned Chi to be his queen, appointed her father governor of Chiang-lo, and bestowed gifts upon her mother and sisters. From that time on, Tung-chih was never again bothered by spirits or weird things. A ballad about Chi’s exploit is still sung today.
(SSC 19/440; FYCL, 42.496b-497a)
Tr. Kenneth J. DeWoskin
Note: The theme of virgin sacrifice suggests a comparison with fertility cult traditions. This story may be considered an anti-type in the CK genre as it debunks the supernatural in celebration of human courage and rationality.
1 T’i-ying was the youngest daughter of Ch’un-yu Yi, an official during the former Han Dynasty. Ch’un-yu Yi had been convicted of a crime and sentenced to receive the severe punishment of death by laceration. T’i-ying wrote a letter of suplication to the emperor, offering herself as slave in exchange for her father’s release. The emperor was moved and revoked the sentence.
Chang Fu, a native of Ying-yang1 [modern Ying-tse County, Honan Province], had been on a voyage and was returning home by way of some rather desolate waterways, when he happened upon a young lady of extraordinary beauty. It was nightfall, and since she was traveling alone in a small boat, she addressed Fu saying, “It is getting dark and I am terrified of tigers. I don’t dare continue traveling through the night.” Fu asked her what her name was, how it was she traveled in this small boat without any protection against the elements, and so forth. He invited her to come aboard his boat to avoid the rain. This exchange had been very agreeable, so she did in fact climb aboard Fu’s boat to spend the night with him; the little craft in which she had been riding was tied alongside. Shortly after the third watch that night, the rain ceased and the moon began to shine brightly. Fu looked down at the girl, only to discover a big sea turtle lying there with its head pillowed against Fu’s arm. He leapt up with a start and then tried to catch the turtle, but it slipped away quickly into the water. What had previously been the small boat turned out to be the rotten remains of a log raft, a little over ten feet long.
(SSC 19/443; TPKC, 468.7)
Tr. Kenneth J. DeWoskin
Note: The beguiling of a man by an animal spirit, presented in an unadorned manner; cf. “The Man from P’eng-ch’eng” (4).
1 The TPKC version has “Po-yang,” a pre fecture located on the eastern bank of Lake Po-yang, Kiangsi Province.--Ed.