Release A Dragon, Receive A Reward 放龍獲報

On the bank of the Lu River Li Yuan saw a small scarlet snake. Less than a chi in length, it was being harassed by a shepherd boy. Yuan bought it with a hundred cash, and released it among the thick vegetation. The following year, he was crossing the Long Bridge[1] again, and saw the Jinshi scholar Zhu Jun coming to call on him, saying: “Jun lives just a few hundred paces from the end of the bridge; their Excellency sends an invitation, if you will pardon me and sit.” Leading him to sit together in a boat, they travelled to a mountain, with richly decorated buildings and halls, all very tightly guarded. Presently, a person wearing a tall hat and ceremonial robes summoned Yuan, saying: “Our young son suffered misfortune and almost died at the hands of a mischievous boy; his humble life depended on the gentleman’s help.” Turning to Jun he ordered that he bow again, and then ordered a banquet be laid out, mixing products of land and sea, saying: “I am a fish of the southern seas; having achieved merit in life, the Heavenly Emperor decreed that I reside here, styling me Anliu Wang. I have a young servant, with the childhood name Yunjie, and I now present her to you; if you accept her, she will be of help.” Yuan therefore did not depart. He subsequently went to sit the civil examinations; when the test was due on the following day, Yunjie stealthily obtained the exam questions; Yuan then prepared his composition in advance, and, on entering the examination hall, felt great satisfaction, achieved great success and a recommendation as an imperial scholar. Yunjie said goodbye to him, saying: “I have obeyed the prince’s order and dare not stay long.” A poem of parting read:

Six years here to repay deep benevolence,

Saying farewell to the aquatic realm and the region of fish.

None say that newly-weds should be parted again,

All wish to share ancient love with new people.

Li Yuan was thus newly married at that time.

**uncertain translation**

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.118 (Tale 205):

放龍獲報

李元於吳江岸見小朱蛇,長不滿尺,為牧童所困。元以百錢買之,放於茂草中。明年,再經長橋,有進士朱浚來謁見,曰:「浚居橋尾數百步耳,大人遣奉召,幸恕坐。」邀同舟,至一山,樓殿寶飾,侍衛甚嚴。俄一人高冠道服,引元坐:曰:「小兒不幸,幾死頑童之手,賴君子活此微命。」顧浚令再拜,乃命置酒,水陸交錯,曰:「吾乃南海之鱗,有功於世,天帝詔居此,封安流王。吾有小奴,小字雲姐,今於贈子,子納之,當得其助。」元乃別去。後赴禮闈,明日當試,雲姐私入竊所試題目出,元乃檢閱宿構,入試,大得意,高捷薦名登科。雲姐告辭曰:「奉王命不敢久留。」作詩別曰:「六年於此報深恩,水國魚鄉是去程。莫謂初婚又相別,都將舊愛與新人。」時李元新娶故也。

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)

[1] An ancient structure in Jiangsu Province.

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Wu Yinzhi’s Integrity 吴隱之廉潔

Wu Yinzhi[1] served as Governor of Guangzhou. In ancient times there was a spring, and people who drank from it became corrupt and wanton; Yinzhi poured it, drank it, paid out double his land tax, and composed a poem:

The ancients said of this water,

That one sip addicted to riches.

If Yi and Qi[2] were to try it,

Their loyalties would never have changed

Moreover, he dwelt in mourning for his mother, showed exceptional etiquette and suffered poverty in his household, and having no choice but to wait until midnight, often hearing a pair of cranes calling in shock at midnight, Yinzhi would always rise and weep, never missing a single time.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.18 (Tale 91):

吴隱之廉潔

吴隱之為廣州刺史。舊有貪泉,人飲之則貪黷,隱之酌而飲之,兼賦詩曰:「古人云此水,一歃懐千金。試使夷齊飲,終當不易心。」又居母喪,過禮,家貧,無以候宵分,常有雙鶴至夜半驚唳,隱之起哭,不失其時。

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories) in Du yi zhi, Xuanshi Zhi 獨異志,宣室志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories, Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), edited by Zhang Yongqin 张永钦 and Hou Zhiming 侯志明 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983)

[1] On Wu Yinzhi 吴隱之, courtesy name Chumo 處默 (d.c. 413 CE), see https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%90%B4%E9%9A%90%E4%B9%8B.

[2] This refers to Bo Yi 伯夷 and Shu Qi 叔齊, famed for their selfless morality. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boyi_and_Shuqi; http://chinaheritage.net/reader/reading/loyalty/sima-qian-%E5%8F%B8%E9%A6%AC%E9%81%B7-a-biography-of-boyi-and-shuqi-%E4%BC%AF%E5%A4%B7%E5%88%97%E5%82%B3/

Liu Ling’s Lack Of Restraint 劉伶狂放

Liu Ling[1] enjoyed drinking, and often undressed and went naked without screening himself; people saw this and reproved him. Ling said: “I am housed and roofed by the heavens and earth, with my room serving as trousers and underwear; if my lord has no business here, why enter my pants?” The others laughed and withdrew.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.10 (Tale 65):

劉伶狂放

劉伶好酒,常袒露不挂絲,人見而責之。伶曰:「我以天地為棟宇,屋室為裩袴,君等無事,何得入我裩袴中?」其人笑而退。

[1] On the poet Liu Ling 劉伶 (221-300 CE), see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liu_Ling_(poet).

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories) in Du yi zhi, Xuanshi Zhi 獨異志,宣室志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories, Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), edited by Zhang Yongqin 张永钦 and Hou Zhiming 侯志明 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983)

Blazing Star Beauty* 明星玉女

The Jade Maiden of Venus lived on Huashan. Drinking a jade brew, she ascended to the heavens in broad daylight. On the mountain peak there was a stone turtle, its breadth several mu, and its height three ren. At its side there was a stone staircase, and all this was visible from afar. Before the Jade Maiden’s shrine there was a five-dan stone mortar, called ‘the Jade Maiden’s hair-washing bowl.’ The colour of water within it was a deep transparent green; rain did not cause it to overflow, and drought did not cause it to dry out. In the hall stood a single jade horse.

From the Jixianlu.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), ii, 59.362

明星玉女

明星玉女者,居華山。服玉漿,白日昇天。山頂石龜,其廣數畝,高三仞。其側有梯磴,遠皆見。玉女祠前有五石臼,號曰玉女洗頭盆。其中水色,碧綠澄澈,雨不加溢,旱不減耗。祠內有玉石馬一匹焉。出集仙錄

*Title edited to adopt the excellent suggestion from Ofer Waldman (see comments).

 

An Immortal Treats Tumours 仙醫瘤疾

Li Zhongweng had a tumour in his nose. As big as a walnut, he feared it would gradually increase in size, and tried many methods to treat it, but without effect. Arriving at a guesthouse in Xiangyang, he encountered a Daoist and they drank together happily, passing the cup day and night. When they were about to part, the Daoist took out a small gourd, about as big as a jujube, and poured out three millet-sized grains of medicine, giving these to Zhongweng and saying: “At night you should puncture the root of the tumour with a needle, and stitch the medicine into this needle-hole; the next day the tumour should fall away. The other two grains are to treat strange illnesses.” Zhongweng used the needle as instructed. By midnight, he felt the medicine moving around the base of the growth and twisting around. When dawn arrived he touched it, and found that the tumour was already quite gone. Hurrying to a mirror to examine his face, he saw that there was not even a scar. He therefore marvelled at the miracle, and kept the remaining grains secret. When his young daughter fell over and broke a tooth, he placed one of the medicine grains in the tooth root, and after an evening her teeth returned to their even shape. He took a liang (31.25g) of mercury and placed it on the blade of a hoe, then put the last grain on this, at which it transformed into the finest quality gold. He then understood that these were pills of the Great Elixir smelted by the immortals.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.145 (Tale 254):

仙醫瘤疾

李仲翁,鼻間生一瘤,大如胡桃,懼其浸大,百方治之不效。至襄陽客邸,遇一道人喜飲,日夕周旋,臨別,出一小瓢如棗大,傾藥三粒如粟,授仲翁曰: 「汝夜以鍼刺瘤根,納藥鍼穴內,明日瘤當自落。其二粒以救奇疾也。」仲翁如其教用鍼。至夜半,覺藥巡瘤根而轉。至曉捫之,則瘤已失矣。急取鏡照之,更無瘢痕,因大神之,秘其餘藥。其女小時倒地,折齒不生,取藥納齒根,一夕齒平復。以水銀一兩置銚間,取藥投之,則化為紫金矣,方知其為神仙所煉大丹也。

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).

A Wineseller Encounters An Immortal 賣酒遇仙

In the Song Jingding era, the renxu year (1262), within the borders of Jingjiang fu one Lin Yilang opened up a wineshop, the flavour of his wine being rather good. One day, a frail and emaciated Daoist came, saying: “This poor cleric wishes to buy wine from the gentleman on credit; one thousand per day, paying back the money within a year; how about it?” Lin said: “More than a thousand would also be permissible; longer than a year would also be permissible, just as long as the Master receives a drink.” He gave the cleric several cups of wine to drink before he left. The next day he came again, and, provided with a thousand’s worth of wine, the Daoist drank it all. Lin said to his wife and son: “This Daoist is unusual; he never [139] speaks at all.” From then he came and drank, the same for six days, then took out a lump of silver from his robe and entrusted it to Lin. Lin said: “The deal is for a year, and it has not even been ten days, so why now? I certainly do not dare to accept this.” The Daoist was pleased, drinking again, and then saying: “It is said that your residence contains unburied dead; this poor cleric is skilled at geomancy, and above your residence is a certain place in Wulito where you should bury it quickly, and subsequently attain wealth and prosperity.” Lin said: “How dare one expect such things? Have some wine.” After repeated urging he finally complied. When the burial was complete, the Daoist requested wine before the tomb, and poured several horn cups over it, chanting:

Finally drunk once after fifty days,

Villagers’ homebrew outshines heavenly ambrosia.

Holding out his hand he summoned a crane, climbing aboard it and departing, not returning despite the family all beseeching him. After three years, the Lin family became greatly wealthy, and the son went straight, by means of the grain for posts exchange, into office; this is truly proof of the cleric’s skill.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.138-39 (Tale 244):

賣酒遇仙

宋景定壬戌,靜江府境內有林一郎者,開酒肆,味頗佳。一日,有癯瘠道人來,曰:「貧道欲與公賒酒,一日一千,限一年方還錢,可乎?」林曰:「一千以上亦可,一年以外亦可,只要先生飲得。」即與飲數杯而往。次日來,供以酒一千,道人飲盡。林與妻子曰:「此道人不凡,決不可出 [139] 言語。」自此來飲,凡六日,懷中出銀一塊權寄。林曰:「一年之約,未得十日,何故?決不敢(「敢」,明刻本、明抄本作「收」。)受。」道人喜,又飲,卻云:「聞宅上有喪未葬,貧道善風水,宅上自有地在五里頭某處,急宜葬,則立致富貴。」林曰:「安敢望此!且飲酒。」再三再四方從。葬畢,道人在墳前索酒,連沃數觥,朗吟曰:「五十日來方一醉,人間村酒勝天漿。」引手招一鶴,跨之而去,一家懇求不返。後三年,林家大發財,直(「直」,明抄本作「產」。)子納粟補官,果符其術。

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 Daoist Sends A Letter 道人寄書

Before the seat of the Linchuan County Magistrate is a stone peak, topped with a small pavilion, and this is protected by a vermillion railing. A seventy-year-old army veteran said:

Beneath this peak was an immortal paradise. Long ago there was an Attaché to the Guard in Zhejiang who, encountering an immortal there, was given a letter, and told: “If I may trouble you, when you are about to leave Fuzhou, please knock on the rock below Ram’s Horn Peak that stands before the town, and there will be the letter’s recipient.” When the attaché returned, he knocked on the stone, and saw a red gate open to a cave, snaggletoothed with glazed tiles, and with windows and a pavilion, quite different from those seen in the human world. Elderly men and women all came out to greet and question him, giving him a cup of broth to drink that was fragrant and beguiling in flavour, and telling him: “The attaché can stay here.” The attaché said: “I have young and old to care for, and do not wish to remain here.” They gave him a sheng (about 1 litre) of grain, and although the attaché threw it to the ground angrily, a dozen or so grains stuck to the skirt of his robe. They then showed him out of the gate, which turned out to be on the riverbank at Wushigang. When he worked out the date, it turned out that he’d been gone more than a year. Later, he saw that the ten or more grains were actually tiny nuggets of gold.

From this we know that the stone at the peak is a border with the territory of the immortals, and that the attaché was not fated to enjoy their good fortune!

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.137 (Tale 241):

道人寄書

臨川郡治前有石山,覆以小亭,及結朱闌護之。有七十歲老兵云:此石山下有洞天福地。昔有一承局在浙,間逢一道人寄書云:「煩將去撫州州前羊角山投下,請扣石,自有人接書。」承局歸,往叩石間,即見朱門洞開,碧瓦參差,亭臺窗戶,殊異人間世。翁姥男女皆歡迎出問,飲以湯一杯,香味襲人,且謂:「承局可留此。」承局曰:「我有老小,不願留止。」與以穀一升,承局怒擲之地,但存十數粒粘於布裙間。遂送出門,乃是烏石岡江畔。以年月計之,則已過一年以外。後見穀十數粒,乃瓜子金也。因知仙境在石山之下,而承局亦無緣分也夫!

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).