Reincarnated for Revenge Against A Foe 託生報讐

In the west of Luling City lived Peng Tu, who often set off at the fifth watch (just before dawn) to buy pigs below the Ten Li Temple. In the darkness he suddenly caught sight of the gatekeeper from the Zhao residence of Zhengbing Ridge, walking along with a sharp knife. A dozen or so steps further, he suddenly heard a shout from among the fields, and on approaching for a closer look, found a dead body. Looking around he spied the light of a house in the distance; Tu thought to himself: “Tomorrow that house with the firelight must surely be implicated.” The next day, those in authority made in investigation, and indeed implicated the house where the lamp shone. That person was imprisoned, faced unbearable hardship, and confessed falsely; the officials recommended execution and public exposure. Peng Tu saw them just before the sentence was carried out, and said to himself: “This person is dying unjustly.” That night he dreamed that the person said: “This matter is known only to you: I will be reincarnated in your household, to repay this enmity.” After a year had passed, Peng Tu had a child, who was exceptionally clever and cunning. When he was twelve, he was wielding the butcher’s knife himself and making sales, when the gatekeeper from the Zhao residence came unexpectedly to buy meat. Due to a petty argument, the son took up his knife and killed him. Peng Tu thought about this, and concluded that it proved his dream to be true. When he took his son to the government office to confess, this coincided with the enthronement of Duzong (in 1264), and, under the general amnesty for the change of regnal era, his life was spared. After another year, he fell ill and died. Peng Tu wept for him for a long time, but dreamed that his son spoke to him: “I was originally born in your house to take revenge on an enemy. Having taken revenge on my foe, it was best to pass away; do not mourn further.”

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi,  前2.124 (Tale 217):

託生報讐

廬陵城西有彭屠,常以五更初往十里廟下買豬,暗中忽望見正丙岡趙宅門子攜尖刀以行,更十數步,忽聞田中叫聲,近前視之,則已殺死一人矣。遠望見有一家燈光,屠心思曰:「明日必累火光人家。」次日,官司檢驗,果然累及燈光之家。其人入獄,不勝苦楚,遂誣服,官議棄市。彭屠見其臨刑,私謂心曰:「此人枉死。」夜夢其人云:「此事隻有君知,吾當託生汝家,以報此讐。」越一年,彭屠生一子,慧黠異常,年十二,自操刀賣肉,忽趙宅門子來買肉,因小爭,揮刀殺之。彭屠心思,向者之夢驗矣。當其子出官招承,會度宗登極,大赦改元,免死。又一年病死。彭屠哭之哀,夢其子謝云:「吾生汝家,本為報讐。讐既報矣,吾可死矣,毋痛哀也。」

 

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Freed Turtles Repay Benevolence 放鼈報恩

Ye Sanda was a first-placed examination candidate from Huaixiang. Someone presented him with a large soft-shelled turtle, and he dropped it into the river. Several days later it came back; he inspected it carefully and it was indeed the turtle he had released those few days before, so he pricked the character ‘Buddha’ on its belly and released it below the Jichuan Bridge. In the renzi year, it was decreed that father and son present themselves together for the prefectural examinations. Suddenly a flood overtook them, and their boat passed the Jinshui Beach and spun round and round. Soon after it stopped, as if the boat was held steady by something. On reaching a calmer flow, the soft-shelled turtle showed its ‘Buddha’ character, and he then realized that this was the turtle he had released. That night, he dreamed that a black-robed old woman addressed him: “Your son Xuan will triumph in the prefectural examinations this autumn.” That same year it did come to pass.

Cheng Yuanzhang came from Youting in Wuyuan. Together with his wife he had a great liking for soft-shelled turtle, and ordered their servant girl Mei Xiang to cook the delicacy. None of it tasted quite right, however, so he whipped her. She once obtained a large one, over a chi (33cm) long, and had just grasped the knife to slaughter it, when she saw it stretch and contract, shivering in terror. Unable to bear it, she pointed to it and said: “I normally cook turtles, and must still suffer beatings. I am about to release you alive, despite facing one more battering.” She then untied it, placing it in the pond behind their residence. This pool was broad and its water had never once dried up. Cheng and his wife, because the turtle had been so large and promised such satisfaction and fullness, grew extremely angry at its loss, and gave the serving girl several dozen lashes. After two years had passed, the serving girl fell developed a fever and then a mania, rushing about recklessly, confused and dazed. The family realised that she could not be cured, and so carried her into [120] the pavilion on the pond, to await her death. The next day, as dawn broke, someone knocked at the back door of the residence; thinking it must be a spirit, they shouted at it to go away. She then said: “I am Mei Xiang; I beg to be allowed to go home.” They opened the gate and it was indeed her. Asked what had happened, she said: “At midnight I seemed to see a strange thing, which netted my body in damp mud and straw, spinning around thirty or forty times, awakening my mind and heart and leaving it open and clear, cooling and refreshing my four limbs and removing all pain. The next thing I knew, I was alone in the pavilion.” The Chengs did not believe this. They waited until dusk, then sent her back to lie down like the previous day and spied on her in secret. They watched as a huge soft-shelled turtle emerged e pond, its body covered in algae and duckweed. The Chengs could not understand the matter, so the maid recounted her release of the turtle from beginning to end, telling of how it had grown so much larger from its beginnings until that point, and looked at how the hole left behind by its tail had persisted. At that, the pond dried up and they caught it and carried it to a deeper pool. The entire Cheng family abstained and never ate it again. A famous physician once said: “In a case of extreme fever, where death seems impossible to avert, draw fresh water and soak the upper and lower clothes together as a fine treatment.” This is not to say that the smaller types of aquatic creatures could do this, too; this was provoked by a secret moral act.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.119-20 (Tale 208):

放鼈報恩

葉三大解元,槐巷人。有饋大鼈者,投之水。數日又再進,熟視之,即前日所放之鼈,遂於腹下刺一「佛」字,放生濟川橋下。壬子,詔父子同應鄉舉,洪水驟漲,舟過金水灘幾覆。須臾復止,若有物扶其舟。及至安流,鼈現「佛」字,始知即所放鼈也。是夜,夢一皁衣嫗曰:「爾子璿今秋領鄉舉。」是年果然。

 

程元章,婺源遊汀人。與妻皆嗜食團魚,令婢梅香主庖饌,每滋味不適口即撻之。嘗得一大者,長尺餘,方操刀欲屠,睹其伸縮顫悸,為之不忍,指而與言:「我尋常烹煮,必遭杖責。今放汝不殺,亦不過痛打一頓。」遂解縛置於舍後污池中。池廣水亦未嘗竭。程夫婦以鼈肥大,可滿意飫饜之。既失之,怒甚,杖婢數十。經二年,婢發熱疾發狂,奔躁昏憒,家人知其不可療,舁入 [120] 池上茅亭以待終。明日,天明曉,有扣宅後門扉者,謂為鬼物,叱去之。乃言:「我是梅香,病已無事,乞令歸家。」啟閽信然。問其故,對曰:「半夜髣髴見一異物,將溼泥草遍罨我身上,環繞三四十匝,便覺心下開豁,四肢清涼,全無所苦,始知獨在亭上。」程氏未以為然。迨暮復使往,如昨日偃臥,而密伺察之。見巨鼈自池御水藻浮萍遮覆其體。程氏不省此事,婢詳述放鼈之首末,云今比昔日,其大倍加,視尾後穿竅猶存。於是涸池取得之,因送諸深潭。程舉家戒不復食。嘗有名醫云:「熱證之極,卒未可解者,汲新水浸衣裳互熨之為妙。」不謂水族細類亦能如此,蓋陰德所招故也。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Saving A Crane, Capturing A Pearl 救鶴獲珠

Kuai Can supported his mother with filial piety. Once a crane, wounded by an archer, became exhausted and encountered Can. Can fed, cared for and healed it; when it was quite recovered he set it free. Afterwards, the crane came to Can’s gate one night, and when he brought a lantern and looked out, a male and female crane had come together, each bringing a bright pearl in gratitude. When sold these brought tens of thousands strings of cash, and his family became very wealthy.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.118-19 (tale 207):

救鶴獲珠

噲參養母至孝。曾有鶴為弋人所射,窮而歸參。參收養療治,瘡愈放之。後鶴夜到參門,秉燭視之,鶴雌雄雙至,各銜明珠來謝。鬻數萬緡,家大殷富。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Saving Flies Averts Death 救蠅免死

Long ago in the capital was a master winemaker; every day flies would fall into his water and wine and he used pieces of dry ash to save and revive them. After several years like this, those lives saved were extremely numerous. One day, his having been implicated in a crime, the presiding officials wished to execute him, and the office clerk took up his brush to write out the judgement, when a fly took hold of the brush head. He drove it away and dipped the brush again, but it happened once more. In the beginning they thought it a coincidence, but after the third and fourth time began to suspect that there might be some injustice, so questioned and investigated anew. They had not yet made their decision when an amnesty was suddenly announced, so he was pardoned and returned. That fly, the smallest of insects, has little knowledge or dedication, [119] but the creator of things employed it purely in order to reward the winemaker’s good heart.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.118-19 (tale 206):

救蠅免死

昔日京師有一酒匠,每日於酒及水內浸死蠅,用乾灰救之即生,如此數年,所活者甚多。一日,偶被罪,當官欲行刑,府官執筆書判,有一蠅抱筆頭,逐去之,再點筆,復如是。初以為偶然,其至三四次,疑有冤抑,再閱審問,未決間,忽遇大赦,得免罪而還。夫蠅至微之蟲,何識而致, [119] 不過造物用之,以報酒匠之善心耳。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Sliced Fish Flies Like a Butterfly 鱠飛蝴蝶

Long ago one Nan Xiaolian greatly enjoyed eating sliced fish, and was especially skilled in its preparation; he could make slices as thin as gauze and as fine as silk thread, which when blown on would rise in the air. Grasping the knife his movements were so fast as to ring with musical rhythm. One day, entertaining a guest and becoming quite drunk, he took a large fish to slice into a banquet, intending to show off his ability. Suddenly a storm arose of wind and rain, a peal of thunder crashed and the finely shaved fish became like a butterfly, the entire banquet taking flight and dancing away. The seated guests were all shocked and terrified. Nan then snapped his knife and swore never to eat it again.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.100 (tale 172):

鱠飛蝴蝶

昔有南孝廉,好食魚鱠,尤善修事,能切如縠薄絲縷,吹之可起,操刀響捷,若合節奏。一日,會客酒酣,取一大魚,當筵切鱠,欲衒其能。忽暴風雨,雷震一聲,所切之鱠悉化為蝴蝶,滿筵飛舞而去。坐客俱為驚駭,南自是折刀,誓不復食。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

A Sheep Baas and Begs for its Life 羊鳴乞命

When Han Zhongxian was magistrate of Xiangzhou, he went out to make offerings for the Cold Food Festival, and the cook drove out several sheep intending to slaughter them. One of the sheep inside ran out, kneeled in front of the gentleman and baaed, not moving for a long time, as if it was presenting an appeal. The gentleman questioned it: “You are begging for your life, aren’t you? I understand.” The sheep baaed and knelt again, as if bowing in gratitude. The gentleman then personally wrote out a tablet, reading ‘long-lived sheep’, and hung this from its neck, ordering that it not be slaughtered. The gentleman abstained from mutton in his feasts and banquets.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.100 (tale 171):

羊鳴乞命

韓忠獻公判相州日,寒食節出祀,庖人驅數羊欲殺之。內一羊奔出公前跪鳴,良久不去,若有所訴。公問之曰:「汝非乞命乎?吾知矣。」羊嗚地而再跪伏,若拜謝狀。公即親書一牌,曰「長生羊」,繫於頸,令不得殺。公後筵會亦不用羊。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Slaughtered Geese Present a Case for Redress 殺鵝訴冤

During the Zhenghe era (1111-18), the Superintendant Yang Tongzhi was inspecting Wuzhou when a Buddhist priest came to call on him, saying: “It is said that Wei Shu of Qiantang is coming; could this be for a letter of recommendation?” Yang said: “Indeed, [100] I was just about to recommend him.” The priest said: “That would be fruitless. He is the subject of a complaint made by 500 geese to the authorities of the nether world, and is not long for this life.” Yang did not believe that this could be true. The following day, he sent someone with the letter of recommendation, but when they arrived, Wei had already passed away. Later, on a visit to the city, he asked Wei’s clerk about the cause of death, and was told: “He died after an illness.” He asked: “Did he ever slaughter geese?” The reply came: “He didn’t usually kill geese, but once received an order from Zhu, the Chancellor of Pingjiang, entrusting him to make goose with salted fish, so slaughtered 500 of them.”

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.99-100 (tale 170):

殺鵝訴冤

政和中,提舉楊通之按行婺州,一道人來謁,曰:「聞錢塘尉書至,豈求舉狀乎?」楊曰:「然, [100] 方欲薦之。」道人曰:「無益也。渠有五百鵝,見於陰府訴冤,非久於世者。」楊不以為然。明日,遣人送舉狀,及至,尉已殂矣。後到邑呼尉吏問死狀,曰「已病死」。曰:「嘗殺鵝乎?」答曰:「平日不殺,但前日被平江朱承宣委牒,委造鵝鮓,遂殺五百隻。」

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).