Conjuring For Theft 幻術為盗

The villagers of Qiongzhou went daily to the labour exchange on the Xiaodongguo Bridge in Chengdu District, where anyone with money could hire bearers to carry their loads. It happened that the imperial scholar Yang Shanfu came there and hired ten people, offering each two hundred cash per day. Returning with them to his home, as the sky turned to dusk, he lit lamps and candles and provided wine and food. When they had finished eating, each was ordered to take up two cloth sacks and a shoulder pole, and follow in silence; four or five of his trusted subordinates went along with them. After going more than ten li (about 3km), they saw a large house, its walls over a zhang (c. 3m) tall, and a pack of dogs began to bark. Before long, the hounds fell silent. Yang attached a rope ladder to the top of the wall,  and climbed up first, and the multitude followed behind him, stealthily and without a sound. Entering the kitchen, they found tables and boards full of pork, mutton, goose and duck; the household was on the eve of a wedding, and a dozen of the men ate without restraint, but still none was any the wiser. Yang entered a chamber, arranging and folding more than ten loads of items and clothing in gold and silver, and ordered the group to bear them away. Yang, along with those he trusted, went behind the newcomers, following them over the rope ladder and returning. The hired hands each sneaked out some kind of garment; when they reached Yang’s place, he was delighted with them, again providing alcoholic drink, and they settled to sleep, sated and drunk, before his bedchamber. Waking sober the next morning, they found themselves among weeds and ruins, with no human household in sight, the robes having also vanished, leaving them only their agreed two hundred cash. The labourers had no idea what kind of magic had taken place. The servant of Gao Youer was among them, and said it was like a dream.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.88 (Tale 152):

幻術為盗

邛州村民日趨成都府小東郭橋上賣工,凡有錢者皆可僱其充使令擔負也。忽有楊秀才善夫來僱十人,議工錢每人二百。與之同歸,天色暮,點燈燭,具酒飯,食罷,各人領布袋二、匾擔一,令其閉口隨〔行〕,(據元刻本補。)亦自有心腹四五人同路。行十餘里,見大屋一所,牆高一丈餘,羣犬狺吠。頃之,犬亦無聲,楊以軟梯搭牆頭先上,衆躡步相隨,寂無一語。入廚內,豬羊鵝鴨之物充滿臺案,蓋其家先一夕成姻也,十餘人恣意而食,並無知者。楊入房內,治疊金銀衣物作十擎,令衆擔出。楊在後同親信者並負新人行,仍從軟梯上回。僱夫亦各竊取衣著之類,到善夫家,喜甚,復得酒物,醉飽羣宿於門前睡房。天明眼醒,見荒草墟中皆無人家所居,衣有盡失之,只(「只」原作「己」,據元本改。)有僱錢二百而已,工不知其何術也。高有二僕在內,言之如夢焉。

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 Kaifeng Water Monster 開封水怪

Under the Song, during the Xuanhe era (1119-25), when someone arose from their bed in front of a tea shop and wiped down the couch, they noticed something crouching beside them like a dog; looking again in the bright light of dawn, it turned out to be a dragon. The person cried out loudly and fell to the ground. A short distance from the tea shop stood a workshop for military equipment. A group of soldiers from the workshop took away the dragon and ate it, but didn’t dare to report the matter. People in the capital all drew pictures to transmit and appreciate the sight; its body was only six or seven chi in length (about 2m), as [74] they have been painted for generations: the dragon’s scales being grey-black, its head like that of a donkey, its cheeks like those of a fish, the colour of its head a true green, with a horned brow, a very long back, splitting into two segments at the end; its voice was like that of a cow. A night later, at the fifth watch (about 4am), a red cloud came from the northwest and covered dozens of circuits, reaching towards heaven, crossing into the Purple Palace and the Great Bear; looking up, the stars all seemed to be separated by red gauze. When the sun rose it split with a tearing noise, which later became very great. This happened over several following evenings, the noise growing, its shaking lasting a long time and becoming extremely strong, with red clouds spreading from the northwest for tens of thousands of circuits, two clouds of black and white passing from the northwest to the northeast, the noise continuing without end, finally stopping at dawn. Several days later, water flooded into the capital, rising to more than ten zhang (33m). Diviners said that in bingwu the omens matched those of the fall of the Northern Qi (550-77), and later the nature of this matter became extremely clear.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.73-74 (Tale 129):

開封水怪

宋宣和間,開封縣前茶肆人晨起拭牀榻,睹若有大犬蹲其旁,質明視之,龍也。其人驚呼仆地。茶肆適與軍器作坊近,為作坊兵衆取而食之,不敢以聞。都人皆圖畫傳玩,身僅六七尺,若 [74] 世所繪,龍鱗蒼黑,驢首而兩頰如魚,頭色正綠,頂有角,坐極長,其際始分兩䏢,有聲如牛。越一夕五鼓,西北有赤氣數十道近天,犯紫宮北斗,仰視星皆若隔絳紗。方起時折裂一聲,然後大發。後數夕又作,聲益大,震且久,其發尤甚,而赤氣自西北數十萬道,中有黑白二氣自西北而由東北,其聲不絕,迨曉乃止。後數日,水犯都城,高十餘丈。占者謂丙午及北齊末占同,後事驗亦甚明也。

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).

An account of the same events is found in Anon., Xuanhe yishi 宣和遺事 [Neglected Events of the Proclaiming Harmony Regnal Period]. Dating it to the second year Xuanhe (1120), this places the incident within a series of disastrous portents, their meaning relating to the palace. The Xuanhe yishi version also, disappointingly, omits the discussion of painting traditions.

William O. Hennessey (tr.), Proclaiming Harmony, Michigan Papers in Chinese Studies, 41 (Ann Arbor, MI, Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1991), pp. 41-42:

That summer, in the fifth month, a creature somewhat like a dragon appeared in front of a teashop in Kaifeng County. It was about six or seven feet long with blue black scales. It had a head like a donkey, but with fish-cheeks and a horn on top of its skull. It bellowed like an ox. As it happened, the shopkeeper was making up the beds that morning when he noticed something the size of a large dog beside him. When he looked closely, it was this dragon. He was so surprised he keeled over in fright. The teashop was situated very close to an arms manufactory, and when the wor­kers in the mill found out about the dragon they killed and ate it.

That night in the fifth watch, several score columns of crimson vapor rose to the sky in the northwest. When one looked up at the North Star, it was as if it were veiled in scarlet gauze. In the midst of it all were alternate streams of black and white vapor, from which emanated crackling sounds like thunder from time to time. Soon rain began to fall in torrents. The level of the river rose more than ten yards, seeping through the city walls and breaking down the dike on the Bian River. Although all the laborers available within the city were marshalled to help in the crisis, carrying straw and sandbags to stem the tide, they were unable to hold it back. Finally, Huizong called upon the executive of the Ministry of Revenue, Tang Lu, to take charge of the operations. In the morning, Lu went out on the river in a small dinghy to see what the flood was like so that it might be controlled. The emperor watched him from atop, a tower. When he [42] discovered it was Lu himself out on the waters, he wept. Several days later the waters leveled off and Lu went to see the emperor, who praised him highly. ‘The temples of Our ancestors are secure, thanks to your work,’ he said.

Lu responded, ‘Water is an element of the Yin class. Yin influences are ascendant and pervade even to the inner reaches of the city and palace. I pray Your Majesty will communicate directly with his ministers, sequester himself from feminine wiles and small-minded people, and heed well this warning from Heaven to make ready for the tribes.’ Huizong commended this memorial and accepted it.

Anon., Xinkan dasong xuanhe yishi 新刊大宋宣和遺事 (Neglected Events of the Proclaiming Harmony Regnal Period of the Great Song: A New Edition) (Shanghai: Gudian wenxue chubanshe, 1954), pp. 29-30:

夏,五月,有物若龍,長六七尺,蒼鱗黑色,驢首,兩頰如魚,頭色綠,頂有角,其聲如牛,見於開封縣茶肆前。時茶肆人早起拂拭床榻,見有物若大犬蹲其傍,熟視之,乃是龍也。其人吃驚,臥倒在地。茶肆與軍器作坊相近,遂被作坊軍人得知,殺龍而食之。是夕五鼓,西北有赤氣數十道衝天,仰視北斗星若隔絳紗,其中有間以白黑二炁,及時有折烈聲震如雷。未幾,霪雨大作,水高十餘丈,犯都城,已破汴堤,諸內侍役夫,擔草運土障之,不能禦。徽宗詔戶部侍郎唐恪治之。即日,恪乘小舟覽水之勢,而求所以導之。上登樓遙見,問之,乃恪也,為之出涕。數日,水平,恪入對,上勞之曰:「宗廟社稷獲安,卿之功也!」唐恪因回奏:「水乃陰類。陰炁之盛,以致犯城闕。願陛下垂意於馭臣,遠女寵,去小人,備夷狄,以益謹天戒。」徽 [30] 宗嘉納之。

Rice and Dried Meat Filled Lung 米脯灌肺

In Hangzhou there was once a seller of filled lung soup. Each day when night fell he shouldered his carrying-pole and set off into the street, walking his rounds in harmony and peace. One evening, a scholar of the National University, arriving extremely drunk by the head of his pole, suddenly threw up in the pot. The seller, not daring to say anything, extinguished his lamp and entered a small alley, wiping off the extra material, and then came back out. Seeing that the vomit still included grains of rice, he stuck on a new straw marker, changing the name of his wares to ‘Rice and Dried Meat Filled Lung’. People who were ignorant of the situation bought and ate all of it.

Had it not been for this period of wild behaviour, that scholar would never have made this ‘payment’, and brought such a day of trade!

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.71 (Tale 123):

米脯灌肺

杭州舊有賣灌肺湯者,每於入夜,夯擔出街,旋行調和。一夕,有太學士人乘醉到擔頭,忽然漚酒入於鍋內,賣者不敢言,即滅燈火挑入小巷內,拭括加料而後復出。視之嘔中尚有飯糝,遂插標改其名曰「米脯灌肺」,不知者皆買食之。否則一時喧鬨,士人未必有償,而一日之經紀休矣!

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).

Accepting Bribes to Kill 受賂殺人

The Song examination scholar and local official Lu Yi served in the Investigation Office to the Left Tribunal. There was a prisoner who had been sentenced to be flogged very hard, but, accepting bribes from a powerful family, Lu unlawfully had him sliced to death. Yi was dismissed due to this crime, his household impoverished and dressed in rags. Moreover, when Yi found employment as an assistant scribe to the prince, the dead prisoner followed him as a wronged soul. When Lu was in the office copying, and whenever he encountered darkness or rain, he often saw [123] him stood before him, addressing him and saying: “You will go soon, and I will return.” Due to this he became dazed and confused, and after several years starved and died.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.22-23 (Tale 214):

受賂殺人

宋秀才胥吏陸儀,充左院推司。有一辟囚當杖死,被勢家用錢賂之,法外陵遲至死。儀被罪廢,家貧,鶉衣百結,又充王儀案貼書,已死之囚,冤魂隨之。陸在司中寫發,每遇陰雨,常見 [123] 立於前,對語之曰:「汝且去,我自會來。」自此精神恍惚,至數年,飢餓而死。

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).

Reincarnated for Revenge Against A Foe 託生報讐

In the west of Luling City lived Peng Tu, who often set off at the fifth watch (just before dawn) to buy pigs below the Ten Li Temple. In the darkness he suddenly caught sight of the gatekeeper from the Zhao residence of Zhengbing Ridge, walking along with a sharp knife. A dozen or so steps further, he suddenly heard a shout from among the fields, and on approaching for a closer look, found a dead body. Looking around he spied the light of a house in the distance; Tu thought to himself: “Tomorrow that house with the firelight must surely be implicated.” The next day, those in authority made in investigation, and indeed implicated the house where the lamp shone. That person was imprisoned, faced unbearable hardship, and confessed falsely; the officials recommended execution and public exposure. Peng Tu saw them just before the sentence was carried out, and said to himself: “This person is dying unjustly.” That night he dreamed that the person said: “This matter is known only to you: I will be reincarnated in your household, to repay this enmity.” After a year had passed, Peng Tu had a child, who was exceptionally clever and cunning. When he was twelve, he was wielding the butcher’s knife himself and making sales, when the gatekeeper from the Zhao residence came unexpectedly to buy meat. Due to a petty argument, the son took up his knife and killed him. Peng Tu thought about this, and concluded that it proved his dream to be true. When he took his son to the government office to confess, this coincided with the enthronement of Duzong (in 1264), and, under the general amnesty for the change of regnal era, his life was spared. After another year, he fell ill and died. Peng Tu wept for him for a long time, but dreamed that his son spoke to him: “I was originally born in your house to take revenge on an enemy. Having taken revenge on my foe, it was best to pass away; do not mourn further.”

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi,  前2.124 (Tale 217):

託生報讐

廬陵城西有彭屠,常以五更初往十里廟下買豬,暗中忽望見正丙岡趙宅門子攜尖刀以行,更十數步,忽聞田中叫聲,近前視之,則已殺死一人矣。遠望見有一家燈光,屠心思曰:「明日必累火光人家。」次日,官司檢驗,果然累及燈光之家。其人入獄,不勝苦楚,遂誣服,官議棄市。彭屠見其臨刑,私謂心曰:「此人枉死。」夜夢其人云:「此事隻有君知,吾當託生汝家,以報此讐。」越一年,彭屠生一子,慧黠異常,年十二,自操刀賣肉,忽趙宅門子來買肉,因小爭,揮刀殺之。彭屠心思,向者之夢驗矣。當其子出官招承,會度宗登極,大赦改元,免死。又一年病死。彭屠哭之哀,夢其子謝云:「吾生汝家,本為報讐。讐既報矣,吾可死矣,毋痛哀也。」

 

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).

Freed Turtles Repay Benevolence 放鼈報恩

Ye Sanda was a first-placed examination candidate from Huaixiang. Someone presented him with a large soft-shelled turtle, and he dropped it into the river. Several days later it came back; he inspected it carefully and it was indeed the turtle he had released those few days before, so he pricked the character ‘Buddha’ on its belly and released it below the Jichuan Bridge. In the renzi year, it was decreed that father and son present themselves together for the prefectural examinations. Suddenly a flood overtook them, and their boat passed the Jinshui Beach and spun round and round. Soon after it stopped, as if the boat was held steady by something. On reaching a calmer flow, the soft-shelled turtle showed its ‘Buddha’ character, and he then realized that this was the turtle he had released. That night, he dreamed that a black-robed old woman addressed him: “Your son Xuan will triumph in the prefectural examinations this autumn.” That same year it did come to pass.

Cheng Yuanzhang came from Youting in Wuyuan. Together with his wife he had a great liking for soft-shelled turtle, and ordered their servant girl Mei Xiang to cook the delicacy. None of it tasted quite right, however, so he whipped her. She once obtained a large one, over a chi (33cm) long, and had just grasped the knife to slaughter it, when she saw it stretch and contract, shivering in terror. Unable to bear it, she pointed to it and said: “I normally cook turtles, and must still suffer beatings. I am about to release you alive, despite facing one more battering.” She then untied it, placing it in the pond behind their residence. This pool was broad and its water had never once dried up. Cheng and his wife, because the turtle had been so large and promised such satisfaction and fullness, grew extremely angry at its loss, and gave the serving girl several dozen lashes. After two years had passed, the serving girl fell developed a fever and then a mania, rushing about recklessly, confused and dazed. The family realised that she could not be cured, and so carried her into [120] the pavilion on the pond, to await her death. The next day, as dawn broke, someone knocked at the back door of the residence; thinking it must be a spirit, they shouted at it to go away. She then said: “I am Mei Xiang; I beg to be allowed to go home.” They opened the gate and it was indeed her. Asked what had happened, she said: “At midnight I seemed to see a strange thing, which netted my body in damp mud and straw, spinning around thirty or forty times, awakening my mind and heart and leaving it open and clear, cooling and refreshing my four limbs and removing all pain. The next thing I knew, I was alone in the pavilion.” The Chengs did not believe this. They waited until dusk, then sent her back to lie down like the previous day and spied on her in secret. They watched as a huge soft-shelled turtle emerged e pond, its body covered in algae and duckweed. The Chengs could not understand the matter, so the maid recounted her release of the turtle from beginning to end, telling of how it had grown so much larger from its beginnings until that point, and looked at how the hole left behind by its tail had persisted. At that, the pond dried up and they caught it and carried it to a deeper pool. The entire Cheng family abstained and never ate it again. A famous physician once said: “In a case of extreme fever, where death seems impossible to avert, draw fresh water and soak the upper and lower clothes together as a fine treatment.” This is not to say that the smaller types of aquatic creatures could do this, too; this was provoked by a secret moral act.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.119-20 (Tale 208):

放鼈報恩

葉三大解元,槐巷人。有饋大鼈者,投之水。數日又再進,熟視之,即前日所放之鼈,遂於腹下刺一「佛」字,放生濟川橋下。壬子,詔父子同應鄉舉,洪水驟漲,舟過金水灘幾覆。須臾復止,若有物扶其舟。及至安流,鼈現「佛」字,始知即所放鼈也。是夜,夢一皁衣嫗曰:「爾子璿今秋領鄉舉。」是年果然。

 

程元章,婺源遊汀人。與妻皆嗜食團魚,令婢梅香主庖饌,每滋味不適口即撻之。嘗得一大者,長尺餘,方操刀欲屠,睹其伸縮顫悸,為之不忍,指而與言:「我尋常烹煮,必遭杖責。今放汝不殺,亦不過痛打一頓。」遂解縛置於舍後污池中。池廣水亦未嘗竭。程夫婦以鼈肥大,可滿意飫饜之。既失之,怒甚,杖婢數十。經二年,婢發熱疾發狂,奔躁昏憒,家人知其不可療,舁入 [120] 池上茅亭以待終。明日,天明曉,有扣宅後門扉者,謂為鬼物,叱去之。乃言:「我是梅香,病已無事,乞令歸家。」啟閽信然。問其故,對曰:「半夜髣髴見一異物,將溼泥草遍罨我身上,環繞三四十匝,便覺心下開豁,四肢清涼,全無所苦,始知獨在亭上。」程氏未以為然。迨暮復使往,如昨日偃臥,而密伺察之。見巨鼈自池御水藻浮萍遮覆其體。程氏不省此事,婢詳述放鼈之首末,云今比昔日,其大倍加,視尾後穿竅猶存。於是涸池取得之,因送諸深潭。程舉家戒不復食。嘗有名醫云:「熱證之極,卒未可解者,汲新水浸衣裳互熨之為妙。」不謂水族細類亦能如此,蓋陰德所招故也。

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).

A Doubting Heart Brings Forth a Spirit 疑心生鬼

There was formerly a Lin Ersi at the Wan’an postal relay station in the Jianning fu western garrison, who made his livelihood by selling pickled provisions. Every day, shouldering his load and going to the town for work, he had to pass through the execution ground where convicted criminals were killed. Lin Ersi always felt terror in his heart, so recklessly uttered curses to make himself feel stronger. One day he returned at dusk and as he reached the field someone approached from close behind, accompanying Lin. During their chat this person questioned Lin Ersi: “You always pass through here in the dark; can you really not fear spirits?” Lin Ersi replied: “I am a person, they’re spirits; why should I be afraid? If I do suddenly encounter them, I do have my knife.” The other said: “Although you don’t fear them, I fear them greatly.” He persisted in asking these questions; “I have you as a companion, but in case we did encounter a spirit, what should be done?” Lin stuck to his refusal to fear others, and his questioner continued, until finally the follower said: “You who travel without fearing spirits, what about having a go at turning your head and looking at me?” When Lin Ersi turned around the person turned out to be headless, at which he desperately threw aside his shoulder pole and rushed back home in terror, spending over a month in illness before he recovered. Can this be anything other than a doubting heart summoning ghostly insults?

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.243 (Tale 440):

疑心生鬼

建寧府西鎮萬安驛前有林二四者,以賣醃藏為活。每日荷擔往城生活,必須由刑人法場經過。林二四每有懼心,則肆詈以自壯。一日昏黑來歸,行到場中,背後有一人接踵而至,與林為伴。談間,因問(此處原多一「爾」字,據明刻本刪。)林二四:「爾居常暮夜過此,能不怕鬼否?」林二四答云:「我人彼鬼,吾何懼哉?卒然遇之,吾有刀耳。」其人曰:「爾雖不畏,我甚畏之。」又再三問曰:「我得爾為伴,萬一遇鬼,當如之何?」林堅以不怕他為辭,詰之至再,後一人曰:「爾道不怕鬼,試回頭看我如何?」林二四回頭,則一無頭人也,忙將擔撇了,驚走回家,病月餘而後愈。豈非疑心有以召鬼之侮乎!

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)