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).

Struck By Lightning From One’s Own Curse 雷殛自呪

Yan Dian had a wife who once engaged in an illicit affair, and also once stole a towel from the neighbouring household. The neighbours scolded and insulted her, so Dian himself uttered a curse: “If my wife did have a secret affair, and did steal your towel, may we be struck down by a great thunderclap. If not, may the same happen to you.” That evening there came the huge quake of a thunderbolt, and they were indeed struck down by the thunderer’s battle-axe. Below Dian’s ribs were the characters “Foolish Wife Protector”, and below his wife’s ribs the characters “Adultress Turned Thief”; this is something everyone should know.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.106 (Tale 183):

偃典有妻,嘗與人私,又嘗竊鄰家一手巾。鄰家詬駡,典乃自呪曰:「若我妻果與人私及竊汝手巾者,當為震雷所擊,否則汝亦如之。」是夕即雷霆大震,果皆斃於雷斧之下。典脅下有字,曰「癡人保妻」,妻脅下亦有字,曰「行姦為盗」,當使皆知。

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 Dead Soul Returns Home 死魂歸家

In the autumn of the renwu year in the Zhiyuan era (1282), the lady née Chen, wife of Zhao Ruosu, fell ill and died. A little after three weeks later, her nephew Chen Hong came, lodging anxiously in the library. Zhao’s mother, lady Chen, lay in her coffin in the neighbouring room. Suddenly, during the night, the sound of a human voice emanated from the coffin, continuing indistinctly for some time. Not long after, there came several loud raps on the table, and a stern voice called: “Girl! I’m quite unable to help myself, and then you come to stir up trouble!” Chen, terrified, gathered candles and unlocked the door, but all was quiet with nothing to see. On the table the sustaining offerings were covered in dust, but visible among this were two fresh palm-prints. The next day at noon, news of their neighbour’s daughter’s death arrived. They then realised that the previous night’s voice was the dead woman’s soul receiving advance warning of this.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.241 (Tale 436):

死魂歸家

至元壬午秋,趙若涑妻陳氏病卒。越二旬,其姪陳紘來,懸宿於書館內。隔房乃趙母陳氏柩在焉。忽中夜聞柩間有人語聲,良久莫辨。未幾忽拍桌兩下,厲聲曰:「女兒,我自也沒奈何,你又來相攪!」陳大恐,朋燭啟鑰,寂無所見。供養桌上皆塵埃,視之有二掌痕獨新。次日午,果趙之適女訃音至。始知昨夕之聲,(「聲」,明刻本作「怪」。)魂已先知矣。

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).

Duke Yi Lays Foundations 益公屋基

When Duke Yi of Zhou resigned as minister and returned home, he wandered field and village at leisure. One day, bringing along a diviner to look at the land more than ten li beyond Wunikeng, seeing a large area owned by a peasant family, he said: “This place is ringed by peaks and water; wouldn’t it be perfect as a pleasure garden?” Soon after this speech an elderly man and woman emerged to meet them, saying: “Last night we dreamed that a constellation achieving Buddha merit came seeking land; today the noble minister arrives; we wish to present the land as an offering.” [85] The Duke compensated them generously to build a house elsewhere. Suddenly he saw that there were three unclaimed tombs of two or three zhang in length. Those around him wished to remove them, but he said: “In life we have neighbours, and in death too. Every year we will honour them, preparing wine three times, a jar of food, and ten bundles of paper as offerings.” This was later inscribed on a wooden tablet before the hall, ensuring that his descendants continued in honour and respect; this can surely be called greatness in faith and magnanimity.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.84-85 (Tale 146):

益公屋基

周益公辭相歸,徜徉田里。日攜術者過十里外烏泥坑相地,見一農家住場曰:「此處山水環抱,將可為樂丘乎?」言未幾,翁媼出迎曰:「夜來夢見婁至德佛來尋地,今日相公來,願以地獻。」 [85] 公厚資別為造屋。忽見二、三丈許有三所無主墓,左右者欲去之,公曰:「生有鄰,死亦如之。每年拜掃,當備酒三行、飯一盂、紙十束同祭。」仍鏤榜堂前,使子孫遵守,可謂忠厚之至矣。

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 Huge Serpent Spits A Pearl 巨蛇吐珠

A country woman surnamed Huang from Qinzhou once found rays of bright light shining out of her grain store at night; people marvelled greatly at it. One day, Huang took out the grain to dry in the sun, and saw among it a great snake coiled up in there, which spat out a round object emitting dazzling rays. When the serpent leapt up and departed, she picked up the object, which turned out to be a pearl. She held it close and returned. That night her room was  filled with light, and the neighbours reported the matter to the local officials. Because the officials pursued the matter rather urgently, the woman became alarmed. She therefore hid the pearl in a steamer basket and it was cooked. Afterwards its bright gleam faded to dullness. A scholar she later encountered said: “This was a snake pearl; had it not been cooked in the steamer its value would have been boundless!”

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.66 (Tale 114):

巨蛇吐珠

欽州村婦黃氏,禾屋內夜有光芒現,人甚訝之。一日,黃婦取禾曬曝,見禾中有一巨蛇蟠屈於彼,口吐一圓物,光耀奪目。蛇躍而出,婦拾而視之,乃一珠,懷而歸之。是夜滿室光耀,鄰右以其事首官,官司追索稍緊,其婦驚懼,以珠於甑內蒸過,遂晦而不明。後遇識者乃曰:「此蛇珠也,若不蒸過,則價無限矣!」

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 Heart Contains Mountains and Rivers 心有山水

In a wild place outside Shanyang County in Chuzhou there was an ancient tomb, of which family or era it is not clear. Suddenly a Persian person came to pay visit a neighbour to the tomb, and said: “I wish to buy this land.” The neighbour said: [65] “This is the tomb of our ancestors; how could I dare to sell them so lightly?” The Persian said: “Don’t pretend that you know those people; no offerings have been made here for five or six centuries!” The other thought about it again through the night, deciding: it is not my tomb, and if there is to be payment, why cherish something without benefit? The following morning, when the Persian came, he accepted the request, asking for 2,000 strings of cash, and this was duly paid to him. After discussion they decided to excavate, and, finding a woman looking like the earth within a wooden coffin, cut open her belly and took out her heart. Displaying it they said: “Through her whole life this woman never achieved her ambitions, but viewing and appreciating the mountains and rivers, their purity and clarity entered her heart.” Separating it into two slices, they emitted bright lustre like jade. Each piece contained the real hills and real waters which a woman had once admired as she leant on her balustrade. Believing it rare and precious, he then took it back to his home country. It was a truly priceless treasure.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.64-65 (Tale 112):

心有山水

楚州山陽縣荒郊有古墳,不詳姓氏年代。忽有波斯人來謁墳鄰曰:「吾欲買此地。」鄰曰: [65] 「墳乃吾祖,安敢輕售!」波斯曰:「汝毋妄認,廢祀已六百年矣!」其人中夜思之,既非我墳,若有所償,何惜不與!詰旦,波斯人來,從其請,索二千緡,隨即償之。議定即掘,見棺木中一婦人如土,剖腹取心,指示曰: 「此婦平生不得志,觀玩山水,清氣盡入其心。」解開兩片,光瑩如玉,每片皆有真山真水,一婦人倚欄凝望。以為奇寶,遂帶歸本國,真無價珍。

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).