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Taking Revenge

HSIANG KAO, otherwise called Ch‘utan, was a T‘aiyüan man, and deeply attached to his half-brother Shêng. Shêng himself was desperately enamoured of a young lady named Po-ssŭ, who was also very fond of him: but the mother wanted too much money for her daughter. Now a rich young fellow named Chuang thought he should like to get Po-ssŭ for himself, and proposed to buy her as a concubine. “No, no,” said Po-ssŭ to her mother, “I prefer being Shêng’s wife to becoming Chuang’s concubine.” So her mother consented, and informed Shêng, who had only recently buried his first wife; at which he was delighted and made preparations to take her over to his own house. When Chuang heard this he was infuriated against Shêng for thus depriving him of Po-ssŭ; and chancing to meet him out one day, set to and abused him roundly. Shêng answered him back, and then Chuang ordered his attendants to fall upon Shêng and beat him well, which they did, leaving him lifeless on the ground. When Hsiang heard what had taken place he ran out and found his brother lying dead upon the ground. Overcome with grief, he proceeded to the magistrate’s, and accused Chuang of murder; but the latter bribed so heavily that nothing came of the accusation. This worked Hsiang to frenzy, and he determined to assassinate Chuang on the high road; with which intent he daily concealed himself, with a sharp knife about him, among the bushes on the hillside, waiting for Chuang to pass. By degrees, this plan of his became known far and wide, and accordingly Chuang never went out except with a strong bodyguard, besides which he engaged at a high price the services of a very skilful archer, named Chiao T‘ung, so that Hsiang had no means of carrying out his intention. However, he continued to lie in wait day after day, and on one occasion it began to rain heavily, and in a short time Hsiang was wet through to the skin. Then the wind got up, and a hailstorm followed, and by-and-by Hsiang was quite numbed with the cold. On the top of the hill there was a small temple wherein lived a Taoist priest, whom Hsiang knew from the latter having occasionally begged alms in the village, and to whom he had often given a meal. This priest, seeing how wet he was, gave him some other clothes, and told him to put them on; but no sooner had he done so than he crouched down like a dog, and found that he had been changed into a tiger, and that the priest had vanished. It now occurred to him to seize this opportunity of revenging himself upon his enemy; and away he went to his old ambush, where lo and behold! he found his own body lying stiff and stark. Fearing lest it should become food for birds of prey, he guarded it carefully, until at length one day Chuang passed by. Out rushed the tiger and sprung upon Chuang, biting his head off, and swallowing it upon the spot; at which Chiao T‘ung, the archer, turned round and shot the animal through the heart. Just at that moment Hsiang awaked as though from a dream, but it was some time before he could crawl home, where he arrived to the great delight of his family, who didn’t know what had become of him. Hsiang said not a word, lying quietly on the bed until some of his people came in to congratulate him on the death of his great enemy Chuang. Hsiang then cried out, “I was that tiger,” and proceeded to relate the whole story, which thus got about until it reached the ears of Chuang’s son, who immediately set to work to bring his father’s murderer to justice. The magistrate, however, did not consider this wild story as sufficient evidence against him, and thereupon dismissed the case.

向杲

向杲字初旦,太原人。與庶兄晟,友于最敦。晟狎一妓,名波斯,有割臂之盟;以其母取直奢,所約不遂。適其母欲從良,願先遣波斯。有莊公子者,素善波斯,請贖為妾。波斯謂母曰:「既願同離水火,是欲出地獄而登天堂也。若妾媵之,相去幾何矣!肯從奴志,向生其可。」母諾之,以意達晟。時晟喪偶未婚,喜,竭貲聘波斯以歸。莊聞,怒奪所好,途中偶逢,大加詬罵。晟不服,遂嗾從人折箠苔之,垂斃,乃去。杲聞奔視,則兄已死。不勝哀憤。具造赴郡。莊廣行賄賂,使其理不得伸。杲隱忿中結,莫可控訴,惟思要路刺殺莊。日懷利刃,伏於山徑之莽。久之,機漸洩。莊知其謀,出則戒備甚嚴;聞汾州有焦桐者,勇而善射,以多金聘為衛。杲無計可施,然猶日伺之。一日,方伏,雨暴作,上下沾濡,寒戰頗苦。既而烈風四塞,冰雹繼至,身忽然痛癢不能復覺。嶺上舊有山神祠,強起奔赴。既入廟,則所識道士在內焉。先是,道士嘗行乞村中,杲輒飯之,道士以故識杲。見杲衣服濡溼,乃以布袍授之,曰:「姑易此。」杲易衣,忍凍蹲若犬,自視,則毛革頓生,身化為虎。道士已失所在。心中驚恨。轉念:得仇人而食其肉,計亦良得。下山伏舊處,見己尸臥叢莽中,始悟前身已死;猶恐葬於烏鳶,時時邏守之。越日,莊始經此,虎暴出,於馬上撲莊落,齕其首,咽之。焦桐返馬而射,中虎腹,蹷然遂斃。杲在錯楚中,恍若夢醒;又經宵,始能行步,厭厭以歸。家人以其連夕不返,方共駭疑,見之,喜相慰問。杲但臥,蹇澀不能語。少間,聞莊信,爭即床頭慶告之。杲乃自言:「虎即我也。」遂述其異。由此傳播。莊子痛父之死甚慘,聞而惡之,因訟杲。官以其事誕而無據,置不理焉。

  異史氏曰:「壯士志酬,必不生返,此千古所悼恨也。借人之殺以為生,仙人之術亦神哉!然天下事足髮指者多矣。使怨者常為人,恨不令暫作虎!」

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