Tigers Thank A Midwife 虎謝老娘

In the Zhiyuan era, the jiashen year (1284), an old woman surnamed Wu lived outside the city of Wenzhou, and at night, during the second watch (9-11pm), a sedan chair stood at her gate, and someone knocked and said: “I request the midwife deliver a baby.” When the midwife opened the gate, he delightedly beckoned her into the sedan chair. She could see little except that the two bearers ran with great speed, paying no heed to thorns and brambles. They arrived at a place with a tall and spacious house, lit brightly by lamps and candles, where a woman lay in confinement. The midwife went through the delivery, which turned out to be a son, and when the washing was finished returned, arriving at home after midnight. When her family asked about it all, the midwife acted as though it had been a dream, and didn’t know what kind of family it had been. Suddenly they saw two tigers roaring and thundering at the gate, and were absolutely terrified. When they opened the gate the next day, they found hung on the fence a side of pork and a leg of beef, and the neighbours all around marvelled at this. This was tigers coming to thank the midwife; who then can say that animals don’t possess human feelings?

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.252 (Tale 454):

虎謝老娘

至元甲申,溫州城外有老娘姓吳,夜二更有荷轎者立於門首,敲門曰:「請老娘收生。」老娘開門,喜而入轎。但見輿夫二人行步甚速,雖荊棘亦不顧也。到一所,屋宇高敞,燈燭明麗,一女子坐蓐。老娘與之收生,得一男子,洗畢而歸,到家夜已中矣。其家問之,老娘如夢,亦不知為何人之家。忽見二虎咆哮於門,驚甚。次日開門,見籬上有豬肉一邊,牛肉一腳,左右鄰里莫不怪之。蓋虎以此來謝老娘也,誰謂禽獸無人心哉!

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).

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A Deity Treats Serpent Birth 神救產蛇

The daughter in law of old man Xu Qing of Jianning Prefecture became pregnant, but went seventeen months without giving birth, so the whole family grew worried and apprehensive. It happened that a woman came to their gate, identifying herself under the surname Chen, a specialist in treating difficult birth. Xu was delighted, asking her to stay and telling Chen about the matter. She said: “This is a simple matter.” She ordered Xu to set up a chamber in a separate building of several stories, cutting an aperture in the central storey, sealing up the lower storey with boards and nails, and installing the pregnant woman in the building, where the woman Chen would also reside. Chen ordered several servants to take up staves and gather below the building, waiting to beat to death anything that fell to the ground. Chen breathed on and massaged the pregnant woman, and at dawn she gave birth to a small serpent, just over a chi (33cm) in length; as it fell from the aperture in the wall, the group of servants beat it to death. The pregnant woman was safe and sound, and the whole family raised their hands and celebrated together, offering generous gifts in thanks, but none were accepted. She did require, however, a handkerchief, on which she had them apply the characters ‘Xu so-and-so rewards the lady Chen, saviour of the pregnant.’

Chen said: “Your servant resides in such-and-such a place within Gutian County, in Fuzhou, those neighbours around are such-and-such people, and in former times they looked on me with favour, as if deceived, it is very fortunate.” She said farewell, left through the gate, and suddenly vanished; doubt and wonder persisted in their hearts about this. Later, Xu governed Fuzhou, and, remembering the incident, sent people to seek and question her neighbours, who said: “Here there is only the temple to Lady Chen; she often manifests in the world to help manage difficult pregnancies.” When examined carefully, the handkerchief inscribed by Xu could be seen hanging on the front of her statue. When they returned to report, Xu went to the temple, upgrading the lady’s titulature and ornamenting the temple [223] eaves.

All who pray in earnest for male descendants or to rescue women from dangerous pregnancies find their prayers answered, and to this day her incense and candles are especially abundant.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.222-23 (Tale 395):

神救產蛇

建寧府徐清叟子婦懷孕,十有七月不產,舉家憂懼。忽一婦人踵門,自言姓陳,專醫難產。(「難產」,明刻本作「產難」,下同。〕徐喜,留之,以事告陳婦。曰:「此易耳。」令徐別治有樓之室,樓中心鑿一竅,樓下周圍用板釘壁,置產婦於樓,陳婦同居焉。陳令備數僕持杖樓下,候有物墮地即箠死之。陳婦以產婦吹呵按摩,但見產一小蛇,長尺餘,自竅而下,羣僕箠殺之。產婦平安,全家舉手相慶,重以禮物謝之,俱不受。但需手帕一事,令其親書「徐某贈救產陳氏」數字。陳曰:「某居福州古田縣某處,左右鄰某人,異日若蒙青目,萬幸。」辭別出門,忽已不見,心常疑異之。後徐知福州,憶(「憶」原作「議」,據明刻本改。)其事,遣人尋訪所居鄰舍,云:「此間止有陳夫人廟,常化身於世救治難產。」細視之,則徐所題之手帕縣於像前。人歸以報,徐為諸於朝,增加封號,宏其廟 [223] 宇。凡有祈求男嗣及婦人難產,禱之立應,至今香火尤盛。

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).