Skip to main content

Theft Of The Peach.

WHEN I was a little boy I went one day to the prefectural city. It was the time of the Spring festival, and the custom was that on the day before, all the merchants of the place should proceed with banners and drums to the judge’s yamên: this was called “bringing in the Spring.” I went with a friend to see the fun; the crowd was immense, and there sat the officials in crimson robes arranged right and left in the hall; but I was small and didn’t know who they were, my attention being attracted chiefly by the hum of voices and the noise of the drums. In the middle of it all, a man leading a boy with his hair unplaited and hanging down his back, walked up to the dais. He carried a pole on his shoulder, and appeared to be saying something which I couldn’t hear for the noise; I only saw the officials smile, and immediately afterwards an attendant came down, and in a loud voice ordered the man to give a performance. “What shall it be?” asked the man in reply; whereupon, after some consultation between the officials on the dais, the attendant inquired what he could do best. The man said he could invert the order of nature; and then, after another pause, he was instructed to produce some peaches; to this he assented; and taking off his coat, laid it on his box, at the same time observing that they had set him a hard task, the winter frost not having broken up, and adding that he was afraid the gentlemen would be angry with him, &c., &c. His son here reminded him that he had agreed to the task and couldn’t well get out of it; so, after fretting and grumbling awhile, he cried out, “I have it! with snow on the ground we shall never get peaches here; but I guess there are some up in heaven in the Royal Mother’s garden, and there we must try.” “How are we to get up, father?” asked the boy; whereupon the man said, “I have the means,” and immediately proceeded to take from his box a cord some tens of feet in length. This he carefully arranged, and then threw one end of it high up into the air where it remained as if caught by something. He now paid out the rope which kept going up higher and higher until the end he had thrown up disappeared in the clouds and only a short piece was left in his hands. Calling his son, he then explained that he himself was too heavy, and, handing him the end of the rope, bid him go up at once. The boy, however, made some difficulty, objecting that the rope was too thin to bear his weight up to such a height, and that he would surely fall down and be killed; upon which his father said that his promise had been given and that repentance was now too late, adding that if the peaches were obtained they would surely be rewarded with a hundred ounces of silver, which should be set aside to get the boy a pretty wife. So his son seized the rope and swarmed up, like a spider running up a thread of its web; and in a few moments he was out of sight in the clouds. By-and-by down fell a peach as large as a basin, which the delighted father handed up to his patrons on the dais who were some time coming to a conclusion whether it was real or imitation. But just then down came the rope with a run, and the affrighted father shrieked out, “Alas! alas! some one has cut the rope: what will my boy do now?” and in another minute down fell something else, which was found on examination to be his son’s head. “Ah me!” said he, weeping bitterly and shewing the head; “the gardener has caught him, and my boy is no more.” After that, his arms, and legs, and body, all came down in like manner; and the father, gathering them up, put them in the box and said, “This was my only son, who accompanied me everywhere; and now what a cruel fate is his. I must away and bury him.” He then approached the dais and said, “Your peach, gentlemen, was obtained at the cost of my boy’s life; help me now to pay his funeral expenses, and I will be ever grateful to you.” The officials who had been watching the scene in horror and amazement, forthwith collected a good purse for him; and when he had received the money, he rapped on his box and said, “Papa‘rh! why don’t you come out and thank the gentlemen?” Thereupon, there was a thump on the box from the inside and up came the boy himself, who jumped out and bowed to the assembled company. I have never forgotten this strange trick, which I subsequently heard could be done by the White Lily sect, who probably got it from this source.

偷桃

童時赴郡試,值春節。舊例,先一日,各行商賈,綵樓鼓吹赴藩司,名曰:「演春」。余從友人戲矚。是日遊人如堵。堂上四官,皆赤衣,東西相嚮坐。時方稚,亦不解其何官。但聞人語嚌嘈,鼓吹聒耳。忽有一人,率披發童,荷擔而上,似有所白;萬聲洶動,亦不聞為何語。但視堂上作笑聲。即有青衣人大聲命作劇。其人應命方興,問:「作何劇?」堂上相顧數語。吏下宣問所長。答言:「能顛倒生物。」吏以白官。少頃復下,命取桃子。術人聲諾,解衣覆笥上,故作怨狀,曰:「官長殊不了了!堅冰未解,安所得桃?不取,又恐為南面者所怒。奈何!」其子曰:「父已諾之,又焉辭?」術人惆悵良久,乃云:「我籌之爛熟。春初雪積,人間何處可覓?惟王母園中,四時常不凋謝,或有之。必竊之天上,乃可。」子曰:「嘻!天可階而升乎?」曰:「有術在。」乃啟笥,出繩一團,約數十丈,理其端,望空中擲去;繩即懸立空際,若有物以掛之。未幾,愈擲愈高,渺入雲中;手中繩亦盡。乃呼子曰:「兒來!余老憊,體重拙,不能行,得汝一往。」遂以繩授子,曰:「持此可登。」子受繩,有難色,怨曰:「阿翁亦大憒憒!如此一線之繩,欲我附之,以登萬仞之高天。倘中道斷絕,骸骨何存矣!」父又強嗚拍之,曰:「我已失口,悔無及。煩兒一行。兒勿苦,倘竊得來,必有百金賞,當為兒娶一美婦。」子乃持索,盤旋而上,手移足隨,如蛛趁絲,漸入雲霄,不可復見。久之,附一桃,如碗大。術人喜,持獻公堂。堂上傳示良久,亦不知其真偽。忽而繩落地上,術人驚曰:「殆矣!上有人斷吾繩,兒將焉托!」移時,一物墮。視之,其子首也。捧而泣曰:「是必偷桃為監者所覺,吾兒休矣!」又移時,一足落;無何,肢體紛墮,無復存者。術人大悲,一一拾置笥中而合之,曰:「老夫止此兒,日從我南北游。今承嚴命,不意罹此奇慘!當負去瘞之。」乃昇堂而跪,曰:「為桃故,殺吾子矣!如憐小人而助之葬,當結草以圖報耳。」坐官駭詫,各有賜金。術人受而纏諸腰,乃扣笥而呼曰:「八八兒,不出謝賞,將何待?」忽一蓬頭僮首抵笥蓋而出,望北稽首,則其子也。以其術奇,故至今猶記之。後聞白蓮教能為此術,意此其苗裔耶?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The wonderful pear-tree

Once upon a time a countryman came into the town on market-day, and brought a load of very special pears with him to sell. He set up his barrow in a good corner, and soon had a great crowd round him ; for everyone knew he always sold extra fine pears, though he did also ask an extra high price. Now, while he was crying up his fruit, a poor, old, ragged, hungry-looking priest stopped just in front of the barrow, and very humbly begged him to give him one of the pears. But the countryman, who was very mean and very nasty-tempered, wouldn't hear of giving him any, and as the priest didn't seem inclined to move on, he began calling him all the bad names he could think of. " Good sir," said the priest, " you have got hundreds of pears on your barrow. I only ask you for one. You would never even know you had lost one. Really, you needn't get angry." "Give him a pear that is going bad ; that will make him happy," said one of the crowd. "The o

The Legend of The Three-Life Stone

The Buddhist believe metempsychosis, or the migration of the souls of animated beings, people's relationships are predestined through three states of life: the past, present, and future life. Legend has it that there's a road called Yellow Spring Road, which leads to Fogotten River. Over the river there's a bridge called Helpless Bridge (Naihe Bridge), at one end of the bridge sits a crimson stone called Three-life Stone. When two people die, they take this route to reincarnation. if they carve their name on the Three-life Stone together while they pass the stone, they are to be predestined to be together in their future life. Although before their rebirth they will be given a MengPo Soup to drink and thereby their memory of past life are obliterated. In reality, San-Sheng Shi (三生石), or Three-Life Stone is located beside Flying Mountain near the West Lake, Hangzhou. On the stone, there is seal with three Chinese characters that say "The Three-life Stone," and a

The Fox and The Tiger

ONE day a fox encountered a tiger. The tiger showed his fangs and waved his claws and wanted to eat him up. But the fox said: 'Good sir, you must not think that you alone are the king of beasts. Your courage is no match for mine. Let us go together and you keep behind me. If the humans are not afraid of me when they see me, then you may eat me up.' The tiger agreed and so the fox led him to a big high-way. As soon as the travellers saw the tiger in the distance they were seized with fear and ran away. Then the said: 'You see? I was walking in front; they saw me before they could See you.' Then the tiger put his tail between his legs and ran away. The tiger had seen that the humans were afraid of the fox but he had not realized that the fox had merely borrowed his own terrible appearance. [This story was translated by Ewald Osers from German, published by George Bell & Sons, in the book 'Chinese Folktales'.  Osers noted that this story was