Pei Zhang’s Unhappy Wife 裴章薄妻

Pei Zhang was from Hedong; his father Zhou had once garrisoned Jingzhou. Their private monk, Tan Zhao, had made great achievements in the Way, and able to comprehend good and bad fortune. As a youth Zhang had profound respect for Tan Zhao, who said that his career and prestige would surpass that of his father. When Zhang reached the ‘capping age’ (i.e., adulthood, at around 20), his father married him to a daughter of the Li family. On passing the age of thirty, Zhang followed a posting to Taiyuan, leaving his wife in Luozhong, ‘passing the door but never entering’ (i.e., being too busy to visit), never taking her along with him. Lady Li felt herself to have been born under an unlucky star, often wearing coarse clothes and a mourning hairstyle, reading Buddhist texts and eating simple food. After a further decade, when his father transferred from Jingzhou to garrison Taiyuan, Tan Zhao followed him. Zhang therefore saw Zhao to renew their acquaintance, but Zhao was shocked and sighed for a long time, addressing him: “Fifty years ago this poor cleric often said Your Excellency would scale the heights; now you are quite weakened and exhausted. How has this happened?” Zhang told him of his unhappy wife. Zhao said: “The lady has complained to the Lord on High, and he punishes Your Excellency.” Ten days later, he cut his stomach open with a knife in the bathtub; his five organs fell to the ground, and he subsequently died.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.13 (Tale 73):

裴章薄妻

河東裴章者,其父胄,曾鎮荊州。門僧曇照,道行甚高,能知休咎。章幼時為曇照所重,言其官班位望過於其父。章弱冠,父為娶李氏女。乃三十年餘,章從職太原,棄其妻於洛中,過門不入,別有所挈。李氏自感其薄命,常褐衣髽髺,讀佛書,蔬食。又十年,嚴經自荊州移鎮太原,曇照隨之。章因見照敍舊,照驚噫久之,謂之曰:「貧道五十年前常謂郎君必貴,今削盡,何也?」章自以薄妻之事啟之。照曰:「夫人生魂訴上帝,以罪處君。」後旬日,為其下以刀劃腹於浴斛,五臟墮地,遂死。

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)

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Cui Gong Attains the Way 崔公得道

Cui Gong Attains the Way 崔公得道

In the renchen year of the Zhiyuan era (1292), Cui Gong of Qingchengshan in Guanzhou lived with old woman Cui in a thatched cottage by the mountain gate intersection and sold firewood. One day, he was going into the hills to gather firewood, when suddenly Magu (the Hemp Maiden Immortal)[1] was sitting there on a rock. He bowed to her, and the immortal asked him: “Do you desire an official post?” Cui replied: “What would I do with an official post?” She asked again: “Do you desire money?” He replied: “Too much money harms a person.” She asked again: “Do you desire magnificent clothing?” He replied: “I’m a man who sells firewood; what would I do with magnificent clothes?” She again asked: “If these three are not desired by you, what is it that you want right now?” Cui Gong laughed and said: “I need this beard to sweep the floor; that would be the best thing.” Magu stroked the beard and drew back her hand, the beard extending along with her hand, eventually growing to reach the ground. When he returned home, people thought it a marvel. Afterwards, he stopped eating, and told people’s fortunes as if he were a spirit, the entire town gathering like a wall of spectators. They each offered cloth or money as alms, but he wouldn’t accept even a single piece of copper cash. A year later, husband and wife both went into the mountains, and where they ended up nobody knows.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.148 (Tale 259):

崔公得道

至元壬辰,灌州青城山崔公,與崔婆在山門路口茅屋下賣柴。一日,入山采柴,忽麻姑仙坐石上,拜之,仙問曰:「汝欲官否?」崔應云:「我用官何為?」又問:「欲錢否?」應云:「錢多害己。」又問:「欲華衣否?」應云:「我是賣柴漢,何用華衣為?」又問:「此三者非汝所欲,今所欲何事?」崔公笑云:「我要此鬚拖地便好。」麻姑引手捋之,鬚隨手而長,竟至垂地。歸家,人以為訝。後不食,言人禍福如神,合城觀者如堵。凡有布施錢,一文亦不受。一年後,夫妻俱入山,不知所終。

[1] On Magu, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magu_(deity)

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).

An Immortal Treats Reversed Hands 仙醫反掌

In the market of Huofu, in Wanzai County, there was a beggar surnamed Guo, whose left hand and both feet were all twisted upwards. This only allowed him to scrape along the ground leaning on a staff held in his right hand, so people called him ‘Scrape Guo’. His mother was elderly and suffered from arthritis; his younger brother suffered in the same way. Scrape went out to beg on the first and fifteenth day of each month. The people of the market all felt sympathy for him and treated him generously, so he was able to support both mother and brother, gathering a month’s worth of provisions, and he went on like this for eighteen years without resentment. In the winter of the second year Yuanzhen (1296), he encountered a Daoist who, seeing his extreme poverty, and his voluntary support for mother and younger brother, he then took five balls of medicine and gave them to Scrape, saying: “If you take my medicine, your long-standing trouble will immediately be resolved.” Scrape took them as instructed, and his hand and feet were then as normal. Not having expected such healing of his illness, he no longer had a reason for his begging, and people were no longer generous to him. Just as he found himself in dire need, he again encountered the same Daoist. Scrape thanked him, and entreated him, saying: “When I received the kind grant of medicine, I happened to forget that my mother is ill; not having shared it with her, my mother now remains [146] ill.” The Daoist gave him five more medicine balls; his mother took two balls, and it was as if her illness had vanished. He still had three balls, and this came to the attention of a wealthy person living near the village who suffered from the same condition. The rich person spoke to Scrape: “It is said you have three pellets of a wonder drug; I will buy these from you for one ingot’s worth of paper money.” Scrape replied that he did not want to accept money, but did want to relieve his condition, and, if he could supply the needs of their three mouths for life, he would happily give him the medicine. Afterwards, when the effect had been demonstrated, the wealthy person kept his word and supported them.

It can only be that Scrape Guo’s single-minded filial piety led him to encounter this immortal and benefit from boundless good fortune. Why, if a beggar can devote himself in this way, others should certainly examine their own conduct.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.145-46 (Tale 255):

仙醫反掌

萬載縣獲賦市,有丐者姓郭,左手及兩足皆反掌於上,止得右手拄地擦行,人遂名以「郭擦」。母老病風,弟病亦然。擦每月朔望出丐,一市人皆憐而惠之,遂得養母及弟,僅得一月之食,如此者十八年無怨。元貞二年冬,遇一道人,見其貧苦,又甘心養母與弟,遂與藥五丸與擦,云:「汝服吾藥,宿疾頓可。」擦如教服之,手足隨即如常。不料疾愈,無可託辭以丐,而人亦無惠之者。方窘急間,又遇元道人。擦謝之,且祈之云:「向蒙惠藥,偶忘母疾,未曾分與,今母尚 [146] 病。」道人再以五丸與之,其母服兩丸,其疾如失。尚餘三丸,適為里近富人所知,其病亦同,富人與擦云:「聞汝有妙藥三丸,以鈔一錠與汝回贖。」擦應言不願受鈔,願病安,三口乞終身供給,遂以藥授之。後果效,富人守信供給之,得非郭擦一念孝悌,獲遇神仙以受無窮之福。吁!丐者而處心如此,人亦可以自反矣。

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).

A Turtle Understands Fortune and Misfortune 龜知吉凶

Pacification Commissioner Yang Yanzheng and his younger brother had faith in dreams, and both followed previous generations in taking up office in the Pacification Commission via examination. In their household was a great turtle, over two chi (c.66cm) in size, and they prepared a turtle chamber in the centre of the hall, feeding it every day with cooked rice or various kinds of pastries. When the two Yangs received promotion, or there was some other type of joy, it would then emerge in leaps and bounds; where there was misfortune, it would then emerge shedding tears. This was truly a turtle spirit!

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.266 (Tale 484):

龜知吉凶

楊安撫炎正與其弟夢信,皆以世科官至安撫使。家蓄一大龜,二尺餘,作龜室於堂奧,每日飼以飯或餅餌之屬。二楊偶有除擢,或有他喜,則跳躍而出;或有凶事,則出而淚下。信乎龜之靈也!

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).