Repairing Ships, Increasing Longevity 修船增壽

In the bingyin year of the Song Xianchun era (1266), the Administrative Inspector for Linchuan, Nuan Weidao, a scholar of Shu, reported that his region had two stony paths separated by a river whose waters ran fast and wild through all four seasons. Further down there was a deep abyss, and only at that place was it possible to cross, although year in and year out those who drowned there were very numerous, as their small boats struck rocks and sank. A person called Xu Zongren decided to build a large vessel, bound with iron plates at both ends, personally hiring punt-hands who were dedicated to serving passing travellers and committed to performing virtuous works in order to accrue merit. It happened that a Person of the Way called at his gate and praised this order, addressing Xu: “The gentleman’s lifespan is restricted to [112] thirty-two, and ends this year.” On the evening of his birthday, he dreamed that he arrived at a government office, seeing a prince seated high in the hall, with three or four hundred spirits before the gates in wet robes, who presented a scroll to the prince: “Xu Zongren has saved many lives from death, with the utmost merit; we beg that husband and wife should enjoy long life, their descendants receive glory and high rank. The multitude wait only for the Zhongyuan festival; they will then cross the worldly bounds.” The prince gestured to his retinue, and with the following words instructed Zongren: “Special Extension by three ages.” He awoke and marvelled at this. From then on he found wholehearted joy in doing good works. Two of his sons and three of his grandsons served as officials. When Zongren died, people erected a hall for offerings by the side of the crossing, and it stands to this day.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.111-12 (Tale 194):

修船增壽

宋咸淳丙寅,臨川錄參暖昧道,蜀士也,嘗言其鄉有兩石嶠夾出一江,四時皆湍急,下則深淵,惟此處可以立渡,常年溺死者甚衆,蓋船小觸石即碎。有徐宗仁發心造一巨舟,兩頭裹以鐵葉,自僱篙手,專一撐過客人,且建善緣以薦亡者。忽有道人登門稱善命,謂徐曰:「公壽止得三 [112] 十二,止在今年。」生日之夕,夢至官府,見王者坐於堂上,而門首溼衣之鬼約三四百人,執一卷投於王前:「徐宗仁濟生拔死,功德莫大,乞與夫妻壽考,子孫榮貴,衆等只俟中元,即超淨界。」 王者指左右,以此詞示宗仁,云:「特延三紀。」覺而異之。自此一心好善樂施。二子、三孫,後有為官者。宗仁死,人為立祠於渡側,至今尚存。

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)

The Great Serpent Of Chengdu 成都長蛇

In the Xianchun era, on the sixth day of the fourth month in the yichou year (23 April, 1265), the clerk Xia Yingchen of the Tanzhou government office made a report in an imperial bulletin, and one section within it read:

In Shenwenjiang County, Chengdu Prefecture, there was a mottled yellow snake, more than a hundred zhang (a zhang is about 3.3m) in length, a spirit radiance extending more than three hundred paces around, its mouth spitting out a fragrance of pepper and plum flowers, its vapour scorching more than twenty li; those people and animals killed by it are innumerable. On the third day of the seventh month last year (27 July, 1264), this prefecture gathered more than two thousand five hundred soldiers to apprehend it, but the serpent used its tail to turn and sweep the troops away. More than five hundred were drowned, and the rest all fled in terror. The emperor decreed that the Daoist Masters of Shu use their powers to deal with the matter; they have just slain it, and its bones are like mountains.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.259 (Tale 470):

成都長蛇

咸淳乙丑四月六日,潭州書局夏應辰錄邸報從遞來,內一項云:「成都府申溫江縣有黃花斑蛇一條,長百餘丈,神光照三百餘步,口吐椒梅花香,薰灼二十餘里,殺人畜無數。去年七月三日,本府差甲士二千五百餘人收捕,蛇用尾掉卷軍士,溺死者五百餘人,餘皆驚遁。上旨命天師蜀中有法之士治之,方戮死,骨如山。」

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 River God’s Retribution 江神報事

Yu Dujian, known as Shan, was from Xinshang. In the xinyou year of the Song Jingding era (1261), he was governor to Linjiang Commandery, and, due to a flood, people suffered from having to wade through the river. He received word that, at a crossing on the boundary with Jiangdong, a boat had foundered killing eighteen people, including the boatman. The governor was keen to uphold the law, so sent a soldier bearing Daoist paper figures and an official document to seek the river spirit for questioning. The soldier feared punishment, so made earnest entreaties [217] at the riverbank. An elderly white-robed person suddenly emerged, saying: “You go now; I’ll come to the offices tomorrow.” The soldier returned and made his report. When the day came, the governor sat in the hall and waited. It was already late when a wisp of cold wind was felt touching people, and he saw a person with bushy brows and white hair, dressed in white, who said: “The eighteen people who died had in a previous life formed a gang of powerful bandits who killed people, and were therefore taken together in death one day on the water.” The governor said: “The boatman among them; what then was his crime?” The elderly figure said: “That person was the bandit chief. The governor understands the affairs of human life in this world. He does not understand the affairs of the nether world’s authority, all of which are destined and certain, without slip or error.”

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.216-17 (Tale 384):

江神報事

俞杜澗名掞,信上人。宋景定辛酉知臨江軍,因大水,人病涉。言江東界有一渡,水漲舟覆,溺死十八人,梢子亦沉死。知府善行法,差一卒持神符及官牒追江神來問。卒畏譴責,力懇 [217] 於水濱。忽一白衣老人出云:「你且去,我明日自到官。」卒歸報。至日,知府坐廳等候。近晚,但覺冷風一陣拂人,見一人龐眉皓首,身著白,云:「十八人死者,前世曾結黨為強盗殺人,以一日聚死於水。」知府曰:「梢子又何辜?」老人曰:「此人正是賊首也。知府但知陽間世事,不知陰府事皆注定,並無差錯。」

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).

Coveting Wealth and Killing A Monk 圖財殺僧

Ji Wugong was returning from Hangzhou by boat, and when he reached the riverbank there was a monk with many valuable possessions, which they lifted together into the boat. On boarding, the monk said he had forgotten something and stepped back off again. Ji coveted his wealth, and gave the order to push off. When the monk arrived, the boat was already midstream and beyond his reach; he tried to swim for it but drowned. Ji, claiming falsely that the monk had been his private chaplain, took all his property and returned with great riches. The following year, his wife became pregnant and was about to give birth, and that evening he dreamed that the monk came to meet him, and therefore named the child. When the child was fully grown, he spent and squandered up to half of the household resources. This son then had his own child, and one night dreamed of a boat descending from the ceiling panel and so named his son ‘Boatman’, and this son subsequently entirely disposed of the household’s wealth.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前集2.122 (Tale 213):

圖財殺僧

季五公自杭州回船,次江畔,有一僧厚有財物,亦同搭此船。及入,謂有所忘,再出船去。季貪其財,先令發舟。僧來,船已中流,不可及,由是赴水而死。季冒認僧為門僧,席捲所遺,歸致大富。踰年,妻懷孕將產,初夜,夢此僧來相見,遂以為名之。及長,家計為之破蕩及半。子又生一孫,夜夢一船自天井中而下,命名船者,後盡鬻其家產無遺。

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).

Envy Drowns Sons and Grandsons 妒溺子孫

Li Zhengzou had a daughter-in-law from the Zhao family, who was extremely fierce. She had a son, but on reaching the age of seven he lacked intelligence and Li was extremely disappointed. His son had four concubines, all of whom became pregnant, and the old man said: “Even if I have ten grandchildren, educate them, do not drown them.” When Zhao heard this she became extremely resentful. Waiting until the old man and her husband left, Zhao called for the concubines and rebuked them, asking who had made them pregnant. The concubines said: “The old master.” Zhao said: “If you say that the master got you pregnant, you will be given a heavy flogging and married out to live among the distant wastes, going without money or clothing. If you say that it was a servant, you will then be spared a beating, you will be married out in a good place, and receive generous gifts.” The concubines were afraid and falsely identified this and that person among the servants. When the old man returned with her husbands, Zhao went straight up and reported this. The old man was unable to investigate, so took them at their word and dismissed them. The four servants were all reprimanded, and he urged the concubines to marry and give birth after, and then not to rear those children. The concubines followed these words, and drowned them. Not many years later, Li died early, and his grandsons also died young. When the lady Zhao died she went without inner and outer coffins, and was almost exposed in the grave. The Li household was affected by the lady Zhao’s jealousy to the point of childlessness, alas! An intelligent woman would never act in such a manner.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.101 (Tale 173):

妒溺子孫

李正奏子婦趙氏,極悍。得一子,至七歲不慧,李甚不滿。子有四妾皆孕,翁曰:「若有十孫,育之不溺。(「溺」原作「潛」據元刻本改。)」趙聞之憤甚。伺翁與夫俱出,趙呼妾責之,問其所孕。妾曰:「主人翁也。」趙曰:「爾謂主孕,必痛撻汝,遠嫁荒惡,行無資裝。若指為僕所有,仍免痛撻,汝(「汝」,元刻本作「且」。)適好處,厚有所贈。」妾懼而妄指為僕某人、某人所有。及翁與夫歸,趙直以告。翁不能察,遂信其說,屏之。四僕俱斥,且囑其妾,嫁後有子,毋育此子。妾從其言,溺之。不數年,李先亡,孫亦早喪,趙氏死無棺槨,幾至暴露。李氏一門,為趙氏妒孕而致絕嗣,哀哉!有識之婦,幸毋倣此可也。

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).

Repay Injustice, Settle A Dispute 冤報解和

[127] There was once a merchant who went to Shu (Sichuan), sharing a boat with a rich trader. One day, the boat was moored on the riverbank and all the servants went ashore, leaving the merchant alone. He wanted to steal the other’s property and seeing that the rich trader was washing his hands to one side of the deck, he went and shoved him into the river. The wealthy trader leaped back up out of the water, grasping the rail in his hands, so the other took up a knife and chopped away all five fingers; the trader sank into the river and drowned. Snatching up all of his goods, the merchant returned with great wealth.

One day, he dreamed that the wealthy trader came to his neighbour’s house, and he awoke with a start. When he sent people to check this, a baby boy had indeed been born, and he ordered that it be nurtured and raised, providing money for the child’s support. When the child was five or six, he adopted it into his own family, nurturing it personally; every day he indulged all the boy’s wishes. On reaching the age of capping (20 sui), the boy suddenly became addicted to drink and gambling, stopping at nothing in pursuit of pleasure and desire, losing uncountable piles of tens of thousands every day, and continuing like this for several years.

One day he had lost a great deal, but in the evening wanted still more money. The head of the household told him: “You have already lost a lot; keep some for the future.” His son became very angry, taking a knife and hacking at him. The older man raised his hand to ward off the blade, and his five fingers fell to the ground. His retinue managed to seize the young man, and he pleaded for his life to be spared. The older man addressed him: “In a former life you were a wealthy trader. I travelled with you on the same boat but plotted to steal your property and killed you. Having discovered in a dream that you had been reincarnated, I nurtured and raised you from childhood until you became fully grown, paying for whatever you wanted; calculated altogether, this has now returned your property to you. Now that my five fingers have also been taken, this is enough to repay the debt, minus the one human life. If I used my wealth and handed you over to the authorities, having you executed would be easy. I fear that this process of retribution for unpunished wrongs might then go on endlessly, so I now release you, sending you off with whatever property you need to establish fields and household in some other faraway prefecture, resolving once and for all this need for revenge.” The young man thanked him and departed.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.126-27 (Tale 221):

冤報解和

[127] 有一商人入蜀,與富商同舟。一日,艤舟江滸,從僕皆上岸,惟此商,欲圖其財,見富商在船旁盥手,遂推之於江,富商又躍起,手拏船舷,又為持刀斷其五指,遂墜江而死。席卷財物,歸成大富。一日,夢富商來其鄰家,驚覺。遣人視之,果生一男子,遂命育之,給以乳哺之資。年五六歲,收歸其家,撫之猶手,每日恣其所欲。及年冠,忽嗜飲賭博,無所不至,一從其意,日輸累萬亦不較,如是者數年。一日多敗,及晚猶欲索錢。主家語之曰:「今日已輸多了,尚有來日。」 其子忿怒,拔刃斫之,主家舉手捍禦,五指俱落,得左右人擒住,倖免不死。主語之曰:「汝前生為富商,我與同舟,圖汝財,害汝命,續夢汝託生,我撫育自少至長,恣汝所欲,總而計之,亦可以還汝財物矣。今又傷我五指,亦足以還,但所欠一命耳。以我財力置汝於官,殺之不難。又恐冤冤相報無已,今放汝去,更隨汝意財物,可遠去他郡,別置田宅,解釋冤讐。」其人感謝而去。

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).