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Saving Life.

A CERTAIN gentleman of Shênyu, who had taken the highest degree, could remember himself in a previous state of existence. He said he had formerly been a scholar, and had died in middle life; and that when he appeared before the Judge of Purgatory, there stood the cauldrons, the boiling oil, and other apparatus of torture, exactly as we read about them on earth. In the eastern corner of the hall were a number of frames from which hung the skins of sheep, dogs, oxen, horses, etc.; and when anybody was condemned to reappear in life under any one of these forms, his skin was stripped off and a skin was taken from the proper frame and fixed on to his body. The gentleman of whom I am writing heard himself sentenced to become a sheep; and the attendant devils had already clothed him in a sheep’s skin in the manner above described, when the clerk of the record informed the Judge that the criminal before him had once saved another man’s life. The Judge consulted his books, and forthwith cried out, “I pardon him; for although his sins have been many, this one act has redeemed them all.” The devils then tried to take off the sheep’s skin, but it was so tightly stuck on him that they couldn’t move it. However, after great efforts, and causing the gentleman most excruciating agony, they managed to tear it off bit by bit, though not quite so cleanly as one might have wished. In fact, a piece as big as the palm of a man’s hand was left near his shoulder; and when he was born again into the world, there was a great patch of hair on his back, which grew again as fast as it was cut off.

某公

陝右某公,辛丑進士,能記前身。嘗言前生為士人,中年而死。死後見冥王判事,鼎鐺油鑊,一如世傳。殿東隅,設數架,上搭豬羊犬馬諸皮。簿吏呼名,或罰作馬,或罰作豬;皆裸之,于架上取皮披之。俄至公,聞冥王曰:「是宜作羊。」鬼取一白羊皮來,捺覆公體。吏白:「是曾拯一人死。」王檢籍覆視,示曰:「免之。惡雖多,此善可贖。」鬼又褫其毛革。革已粘體,不可復動。兩鬼捉臂按胸,力脫之,痛苦不可名狀;皮片片斷裂,不得盡淨。既脫,近肩處猶粘羊皮大如掌。公既生,背上有羊毛叢生,剪去復出。

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