An Honest Heart Moves Heaven 平心感天

Chen Renfu, of Tiaolu Village, Gao’an County, resided in some wealth in a farmhouse in the village, specializing in the study of Buddhism and Daoism. Each year, in the spring, he would reserve two thousand dan of millet, and, in the fifth or sixth month of the following year, when grain was expensive, he would sell his grain at a reduced price. When the money was handed over, he’d have the buyers enter the granary themselves and would not let them take anything until the scales were perfectly level. The village all called him ‘Chen Weigh-It-Yourself’. At that time there was a terrible drought; the prefectural chief prayed for relief, but without result. One night he dreamed that the town god said: “Chen Weigh-It-Yourself has the rain.” When he awoke from the dream, he sent servants to seek a meeting at the prefecture offices. On seeing him, he was delighted, preparing candles and incense, having monks chant sutras and ordering them to pray for his longevity. Chen said: “Your servant is just a villager, lacking any skill with which to pray for rain.” The prefectural chief told him about the dream, and urged him strongly. Chen had no choice but to light incense and turn his face to heaven, praying earnestly and begging for three days of continuous heavy rain to relieve somewhat the worry and pain of the populace. When evening fell there was indeed a great rainfall, which only stopped after three days, and the people of the prefecture were all delighted. This benevolent elder’s daily reduction of grain prices was enough to move the heavens.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.108 (Tale 189):

平心感天

高安縣調露鄉陳仁父,居村田宅稍富,專事釋老之學。每年春留穀二千石,至次年五六月米貴之時,減價發糶,既交錢,令糴者自入倉內量出,不許多取,務要兩平。一村稱之曰「陳自量」。時大旱,太守祈求不應,夜夢城隍曰:「調露鄉陳自量有雨。」夢覺,差人尋訪赴郡。太守見之,喜具香燭,僧道誦經,就令祈禱。陳曰:「某村夫,無術可以祈雨。」太守以所夢事告,強之。陳不免炷香,對空而禱,乞降霖雨三日,以濟焦沽(「沽」,疑當作「枯」。)少甦民望。至晚果大雨,三日方止,一郡之人皆悅。蓋仁父平日減米價,足以感天也。

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).

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The Way Kills A Spider Demon 法誅蛛怪

In a household belonging to Jianning fu there was a married second daughter, who returned to the household for the new spring, and went to stroll with her younger sister in the flower garden to the side of the house. As they entered the garden gate there was a spider, deep red in colour, which descended onto her arm and could not be flicked away. The girl thought it a demon, and though desperate could not get rid of it. Returning, she fell ill and died. At the beginning of spring the following year, her younger sister walked again in that place to remember the dead and the past, and had not even finished speaking when the same thing descended onto her arm. The girl rushed back, also feeling the illness starting to develop, and told her mother: “Elder sister saw this last year and then died; now I have seen it again and fear that I will not be spared. This is a demon; I have heard that Huang Jinzhuang performs the Way with great efficacy. We should hurry and send people to ask for a talisman and curing water.” Her mother did as she said. Gentleman Huang sent out a talisman with instructions to burn it in the stove. Soon after, thick clouds arose on all sides, thunder and rain descending all at once, the neighbours saw a mountainside appear in the air before the gate, and saw a scarlet woman struck as if by a lightning spirit, over and over again. Before long, there was a single great thunderclap, and they saw the woman fall out of the sky and into the valley. Soon after the rain stopped, and, going to look, they saw the corpse of a woman laid out there. The demonic effects then ceased.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.164 (Tale 285):

法誅蛛怪

建寧府人家有二女適人,因春首歸家,(「家」,明抄本作「寧」。)與其妹同遊屋側花園。方入園門,有一蜘蛛,真紅色,墮其臂,拂之不去。女以為怪,意殊不釋,歸感疾而死。次年春初,其妹再遊其地,因感舊事,言未竟,此物復墮其臂。其女急回,亦感病,語其母曰:「姊去年見此而死,今我又復見之,恐不可免。此是一怪,聞黃金莊行法甚靈,可急遣人問討符水。」母如其言。黃公為遣將發符,令以符於竈中燒化。須臾,陰雲四起,雷雨交作,鄰人但見門前之山旁空中,見有一真紅婦人為雷神所擊,往來數四。須臾,霹靂一聲,見此婦人自空中跌下坑谷。須臾雨霽,往視,見一婦人橫尸在焉。其怪方絕。

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).

Moonlight Traces An Immortal 月影仙跡

Wang Tinggui was from Luxi, in Ancheng. His courtesy name was Minzhan, and he was a student of the imperial university, having passed the highest examinations. He once took leave of Hu Dan’an with a poem on the latter’s demotion to Xinzhou. Gui [?who? Qin Hui (1090-1155)?] heard of this and was angry, demoting him too. When Gui died, he was summoned to court once more, appointed Academician in the Cabinet for Promotion of Literature, but resigned the post and returned to live in seclusion in his home village, travelling around and resting at Mengcao Convent. In late spring, when the roseleaf raspberry was in full bloom, it was almost dawn when the waning moonlight illuminated a figure, seemingly dressed like a lay Buddhist, and who addressed a vegetable-washing servant, saying: “Please give us a poem; Lü Dongbin is coming to see you.” The servant said: “It is still early.” When the servant went in to announce this, Wang straightened his robe and hurried out, but could see only the moonlight outlining the form of a person on the ground. He kowtowed and bowed to them, but then there was nothing to be seen. He later amended the scrolls around the convent gate to read:

Moonlight traces immortal vestiges

Fragrant blooms bring spirit to the writing-brush.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.133 (Tale 233):

月影仙跡

安成盧溪王庭珪,字民瞻,太學生(明刻本無「生」字。)登第。嘗以詩送胡澹庵貶新州。檜見而怒,例遭貶。檜死,召還朝,除敷文閣學士,致仕,歸遯丘園,遊息于夢草庵。莫春荼䕷盛開,天將曙,殘月照人,偶有衣白衣人來,與洗菜僕曰:「請與敷文說,呂洞賓來相見。」僕曰:「尚早。」及僕入語,王攬衣急出,但見月影,一人在地,遂扣而拜之,不復可見。後改庵前門帖云:「月影印仙迹,花香供筆靈。」

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 Well Spirit Shows Itself 井神現身

Wu Zhan lived near Jingxi, where there was a particularly clear and limpid spring on which the population relied. Zhan protected it with a bamboo fence, to keep out the dirt. One day, Wu was by the side of the spring when he caught a white snail and put it in an earthen jar. Whenever he came in from outside, he found food and drink already prepared in his kitchen, and he was shocked and astonished. One day he managed to peep in, and saw a woman emerge from the shell and take up a cooking knife. Wu hurried in towards her. She was unable to return to her shell, and told him truthfully: “I am a spring spirit. Because the gentleman respected and protected my source, and because it is known that the gentleman is a widower, I was commanded to prepare food for the gentleman. If the gentleman eats my food, he will attain the Way.” When her speech was finished she vanished.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.219 (Tale 388):

井神現身

吳湛居臨荊溪,有一泉極清澈,衆人賴之,湛為竹籬遮護,不令穢入。一日,吳於泉側得一白螺,歸置之甕中,每自外歸,則廚中飲食已辦,心大驚異。一日竊窺,乃一女子自螺中而出,手自操刀。吳急趨之,女子大窘,不容歸殼,實告吳曰:「吾乃泉神,以君敬護泉源,且知君鰥居,命〔吾〕(據明刻本補。)為君操饌。君食吾饌,當得道矣。」言訖不見。

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 Strangeness of the Jiuzhen Temple Spring 九真廟泉異

Behind the Jiuzhen Temple, within Sanwu Village, in Xiangxiang, in Tanzhou, there was a large well, its spring extremely deep and clear. It had long been a marvel, and people who looked at the spring had to bring paper money and throw it in the well; when the notes reached the spring they would sink. In the Yuanzhen era (1295-97), the autumn of the jiwei year,[1] there were seven travelling traders who, passing, went to look and joked: “It is said this spring is most magical; when people throw in spirit money it sinks straight to the bottom; nobody has ever seen paper notes float back up again.” The crowd thereupon saw a Zhiyuan paper note and some yellow and white spirit money notes rise to the surface and before long sink once more. The merchants became very alarmed, buying paper money and throwing it in, kowtowing and then departing. This spring is like that because it has spirit administrators. Nonetheless, despite being strange, this spring can truly be called greedy!

[1] This should be 56th year of the cycle, and therefore either 1259 or 1329. This may be an error or deliberate fudging.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.212 (Tale 377):

九真廟泉異

潭之湘鄉三五里間九真廟,背有一巨井,其泉極浚洌。素異者,人有觀泉,必須具楮財投井,楮財到泉即沉。元貞己未秋,有行商七人徑往一觀,戲曰:「聞此泉最靈異,人皆以紙錢投之,直沉於底,未嘗見泉中有紙錢浮將出來。」衆因而(「因而」,明刻本作「目」。)看見有至元鈔一踏、黃白紙錢數片,浮出水面,須臾復沒。衆商遂駭,亦置楮財投之,叩首而去。蓋泉有神司之故爾。雖然,此泉雖異,亦可謂之貪泉也夫!

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).

Fostered Swallows Show Gratitude 飼燕知恩

During the Yuanyou era (1086-1094), a daughter of the Wang family, named Yasan, lived in Qingxi, in Yanzhou. She saw a mother swallow, whose three chicks were not yet able to leave the nest, being eaten by a cat, and daily took food to feed them, until they grew up and flew away. That winter, Yasan fell ill and died. The next spring, the three swallows returned, flying around and around her room without stopping. Her mother said: “You are flying in search of Yasan, aren’t you? Yasan is dead; she is buried in the back garden. Follow me if you want to find her.” Her mother walked, the swallows flying behind her, until they reached the garden, where she pointed to the tomb. The three swallows flew to the grave, crying out, and then, using their beaks, all dug themselves into the earth and died.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.120 (Tale 209):

飼燕知恩

元祐間,嚴州青溪王氏女,名亞三。見燕母為貓所食,有未出巢燕子三,每日將飯飼之,後長大飛去。其冬,亞三病死。次春,三燕復來,飛繞其屋不已。母曰:「你飛尋亞三否?亞三已死,葬在後園中,欲尋則隨我去。」母行,燕飛隨後,至園,母指墓,三小燕飛鳴於墓,以嘴鑽入墓土中皆死。

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).