Myths and Legends of China
by E. T. C. Werner
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But Hsuean Chuang sat as if listening to frogs after rain, unmoved except by anger that she should attempt to divert him from his heavenly purpose, and in the end the lady retired in a rage, slamming the door behind her.

The covetous Pa-chieh, however, expressed himself in favour of accepting the widow's terms. Finding it impossible to do so openly, he stole round to the back and secured a private interview. His personal appearance was against him, but the widow was not altogether uncompliant. She not only entertained the travellers, but agreed to Pa-chieh retiring within the household in the character of a son-in-law, the other three remaining as guests in the guest-rooms.

Blind Man's Buff

But a new problem now arose. If Pa-chieh were wedded to one of the three daughters, the others would feel aggrieved. So the widow proposed to blindfold him with a handkerchief, and marry him to whichever he succeeded in catching. But, with the bandage tied over his eyes, Pa-chieh only found himself groping in darkness. "The tinkling sound of female trinkets was all around him, the odour of musk was in his nostrils; like fairy forms they fluttered about him, but he could no more grasp one than he could a shadow. One way and another he ran till he was too giddy to stand, and could only stumble helplessly about."

The prospective mother-in-law then unloosed the bandage, and informed Pa-chieh that it was not her daughters' 'slipperiness,' as he had called it, which prevented their capture, but the extreme modesty of each in being generous enough to forgo her claims in favour of one of her sisters. Pa-chieh thereupon became very importunate, urging his suit for any one of the daughters or for the mother herself or for all three or all four. This was beyond all conscience, but the widow was equal to the emergency, and suggested another solution. Each of her daughters wore a waistcoat embroidered in jewels and gold. Pa-chieh was to try these on in turn, and to marry the owner of the one which fitted him. Pa-chieh put one on, but as he was tying the cord round his waist it transformed itself into strong coils of rope which bound him tightly in every limb. He rolled about in excruciating agony, and as he did so the curtain of enchantment fell and the beauties and the palace disappeared.

Next morning the rest of the party on waking up also found that all had changed, and saw that they had been sleeping on the ground in the cypress-grove. On making search they found Pa-chieh bound fast to a tree. They cut him down, to pursue the journey a sadder and wiser Pig, and the butt of many a quip from his fellow-travellers.

The Lotus Cave

When the party left the Elephant Country, seeing a mountain ahead, the Master warned his disciples to be careful. Sun said: "Master, say not so; remember the text of the Sacred Book, 'So long as the heart is right there is nothing to fear.'" After this Sun kept a close watch on Pa-chieh, who, while professing to be on guard, slept most of the time. When they arrived at Ping-ting Shan they were approached by a woodcutter, who warned them that in the mountain, which extended for 600 li (200 miles), there was a Lotus Cave, inhabited by a band of demons under two chiefs, who were lying in wait to devour the travellers. The woodcutter then disappeared. Accordingly, Pa-chieh was ordered to keep watch. But, seeing some hay, he lay down and went to sleep, and the mountain demons carried him away to the Lotus Cave.

On seeing Pa-chieh, the second chief said: "He is no good; you must go in search of the Master and the Monkey." All this time the Monkey, to protect his Master, was walking ahead of the horse, swinging his club up and down and to right and left. The Demon-king saw him from the top of the mountain and said to himself: "This Monkey is famous for his magic, but I will prove that he is no match for me; I will yet feast on his Master." So, descending the mountain, he transformed himself into a lame beggar and waited by the roadside. The Master, out of pity, persuaded the Monkey to carry him. While on the Monkey's back the Demon, by magic skill, threw Mount Meru on to Sun's head, but the Monkey warded it off with his left shoulder, and walked on. Then the Demon threw Mount O-mei on to Sun's head, and this he warded off with his right shoulder, and walked on, much to the Demon's surprise. Lastly the Demon caused T'ai Shan to fall on to his head. This at last stunned the Monkey. Sha Ho-shang now defended the Master with his staff, which was, however, no match for the Demon's starry sword. The Demon seized the Master and carried him under one arm and Sha Ho-shang under the other to the Lotus Cave.

The two Demons then planned to take their two most precious things, a yellow gourd and a jade vase, and try to bottle the Monkey. They arranged to carry them upside down and call out the Monkey's name. If he replied, then he would be inside, and they could seal him up, using the seal of the great Ancient of Days, the dweller in the mansion of T'ai Sui. [35]

The Monkey under the Mountain

When the Monkey found that he was being crushed under the mountain he was greatly distressed about his Master, and cried out: "Oh, Master, you delivered me from under the mountain before, and trained me in religion; how is it that you have brought me to this pass? If you must die, why should Sha Ho-shang and Pa-chieh and the Dragon-horse also suffer?" Then his tears poured down like rain.

The spirits of the mountain were astonished at hearing these words. The guardian angels of the Five Religions asked: "Whose is this mountain, and who is crushed beneath it?" The local gods replied: "The mountain is ours, but who is under it we do not know." "If you do not know," the angels replied, "we will tell you. It is the Great Holy One, the Equal of Heaven, who rebelled there five hundred years ago. He is now converted, and is the disciple of the Chinese ambassador. How dare you lend your mountain to the Demon for such a purpose?" The guardian angels and local gods then recited some prayers, and the mountain was removed. The Monkey sprang up, brandishing his spear, and the spirits at once apologized, saying that they were under enforced service to the Demons.

While they were speaking Sun saw a light approaching, and asked what it was. The spirits replied: "This light comes from the Demons' magic treasures. We fear they are bringing them to catch you." Sun then said: "Now we shall have some sport. Who is the Demon-chief's associate?" "He is a Taoist," they replied, "who is always occupied in preparing chemicals." The Monkey said: "Leave me, and I will catch them myself." He then transformed himself into a duplicate of the Taoist.

The Magic Gourd

Sun went to meet the Demons, and in conversation learnt from them that they were on their way to catch the famous Monkey, and that the magic gourd and vase were for that purpose. They showed these treasures to him, and explained that the gourd, though small, could hold a thousand people. "That is nothing," replied Sun. "I have a gourd which can contain all the heavens." At this they marvelled greatly, and made a bargain with him, according to which he was to give them his gourd, after it had been tested as to its capacity to contain the heavens, in exchange for their precious gourd and vase. Going up to Heaven, the Monkey obtained permission to extinguish the light of the sun, moon, and stars for one hour. At noon the next day there was complete darkness, and the Demons believed Sun when he stated that he had put the whole heavens into his gourd so that there could be no light. They then handed over to the Monkey their magic gourd and vase, and in exchange he gave them his false gourd.

The Magic Rope

On discovering that they had been deceived, the Demons made complaint to their chiefs, who informed them that Sun, by pretending to be one of the Immortals, had outwitted them. They had now lost two out of their five magic treasures. There remained three, the magic sword, the magic palm fan, and the magic rope. "Go," said they, "and invite our dear grandmother to come and dine on human flesh." Personating one of the Demons, Sun himself went on this errand. He told the old lady that he wanted her to bring with her the magic rope, with which to catch Sun. She was delighted, and set out in her chair carried by two fairies.

When they had gone some few li, Sun killed the ladies, and then saw that they were foxes. He took the magic rope, and thus had three of the magic treasures. Having changed the dead so that they looked like living creatures, he returned to the Lotus Cave. Many small demons came running up, saying that the old lady had been slain. The Demon-king, alarmed, proposed to release the whole party. But his younger brother said: "No, let me fight Sun. If I win, we can eat them; if I fail, we can let them go."

After thirty bouts Sun lost the magic rope, and the Demon lassoed him with it and carried him to the cave, and took back the magic gourd and vase. Sun now transformed himself into two false demons. One he placed instead of himself in the lasso bound to a pillar, and then went and reported to the second Demon-chief that Sun was struggling hard, and that he should be bound with a stronger rope lest he make his escape. Thus, by this strategy, Sun obtained possession of the magic rope again. By a similar trick he also got back the magic gourd and vase.

The Master Rescued

Sun and the Demons now began to wrangle about the respective merits of their gourds, which, each assured the other, could imprison men and make them obey their wishes. Finally, Sun succeeded in putting one of the Demons into his gourd.

There ensued another fight concerning the magic sword and palm fan, during which the fan was burnt to ashes. After more encounters Sun succeeded in bottling the second Demon in the magic vase, and sealed him up with the seal of the Ancient of Days. Then the magic sword was delivered, and the Demons submitted. Sun returned to the cave, fetched his Master out, swept the cave clean of all evil spirits, and they then started again on their westward journey. On the road they met a blind man, who addressed them saying: "Whither away, Buddhist Priest? I am the Ancient of Days. Give me back my magic treasures. In the gourd I keep the pills of immortality. In the vase I keep the water of life. The sword I use to subdue demons. With the fan I stir up enthusiasm. With the cord I bind bundles. One of these two Demons had charge of the gold crucible. They stole my magic treasures and fled to the mundane sphere of mortals. You, having captured them, are deserving of great reward." But Sun replied: "You should be severely punished for allowing your servants to do this evil in the world." The Ancient of Days replied: "No, without these trials your Master and his disciples could never attain to perfection."

Sun understood and said: "Since you have come in person for the magic treasures, I return them to you." After receiving them, the Ancient of Days returned to his T'ai Sui mansion in the skies.

The Red Child Demon

By the autumn the travellers arrived at a great mountain. They saw on the road a red cloud which the Monkey thought must be a demon. It was in fact a demon child who, in order to entrap the Master, had had himself bound and tied to the branch of a tree. The child repeatedly cried out to the passers-by to deliver him. Sun suspected that it was a trick; but the Master could no longer endure the pitiful wails; he ordered his disciples to loose the child, and the Monkey to carry him.

As they proceeded on their way the Demon caused a strong whirlwind to spring up, and during this he carried off the Master. Sun discovered that the Demon was an old friend of his, who, centuries before, had pledged himself to eternal friendship. So he consoled his comrades by saying that he felt sure no harm would come to the Master.

A Prospective Feast

Soon Sun and his companions reached a mountain covered with pine-forests. Here they found the Demon in his cave, intent upon feasting on the Priest. The Demon refused to recognize his ancient friendship with Sun, so the two came to blows. The Demon set fire to everything, so that the Monkey might be blinded by the smoke. Thus he was unable to find his Master. In despair he said: "I must get the help of some one more skilful than myself." Pa-chieh was sent to fetch Kuan Yin. The Demon then seized a magic bag, transformed himself into the shape of Kuan Yin, and invited Pa-chieh to enter the cave. The simpleton fell into the trap and was seized and placed in the bag. Then the Demon appeared in his true form, and said: "I am the beggar child, and mean to cook you for my dinner. A fine man to protect his Master you are!" The Demon then summoned six of his most doughty generals and ordered them to accompany him to fetch his father, King Ox-head, to dine off the pilgrim. When they had gone Sun opened the bag, released Pa-chieh, and both followed the six generals.

The Generals Tricked

Sun thought that as the Demon had played a trick on Pa-chieh, he would play one on his generals. So he hurried on in front of them, and changed himself into the form of King Ox-head. The Demon and his generals were invited into his presence, and Red Child said: "If anyone eats of the pilgrim's flesh, his life will be prolonged indefinitely. Now he is caught and I invite you to feast on him." Sun, personifying the father, said: "No, I cannot come. I am fasting to-day. Moreover, Sun has charge of the pilgrim, and if any harm befall him it will be the worse for you, for he has seventy-two magic arts. He can make himself so big that your cave cannot contain him, and he can make himself as small as a fly, a mosquito, a bee, or a butterfly."

Sun then went to Kuan Yin and appealed for help. She gave him a bottle, but he found he could not move it. "No," said Kuan Yin, "for all the forces of the ocean are stored in it."

Kuan Yin lifted it with ease, and said: "This dew water is different from dragon water, and can extinguish the fire of passion. I will send a fairy with you on your boat. You need no sails. The fairy needs only to blow a little, and the boat moves along without any effort." Finally, the Red Child, having been overcome, repented and begged to be received as a disciple. Kuan Yin received him and blessed him, giving him the name of Steward.

The Demons of Blackwater River

One day the Master suddenly exclaimed: "What is that noise?" Sun replied: "You are afraid; you have forgotten the Heart Prayer, according to which we are to be indifferent to all the calls of the six senses—the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind. These are the Six Thieves. If you cannot suppress them, how do you expect to see the Great Lord?" The Master thought a while and then said: "O disciple, when shall we see the Incarnate Model (Ju Lai) face to face?"

Pa-chieh said: "If we are to meet such demons as these, it will take us a thousand years to get to the West." But Sha Ho-shang rejoined: "Both you and I are stupid; if we persevere and travel on, shoulder to shoulder, we shall reach there at last." While thus talking, they saw before them a dark river in flood, which the horse could not cross. Seeing a small boat, the Master said: "Let us engage that boat to take us across." While crossing the river in it, they discovered that it was a boat sent by the Demon of Blackwater River to entrap them in midstream, and the Master would have been slain had not Sun and the Western Dragon come to the rescue.

The Slow-carts Country

Having crossed the Blackwater River, they journeyed westward, facing wind and snow. Suddenly they heard a great shout as of ten thousand voices. The Master was alarmed, but Sun laughingly went to investigate. Sitting on a cloud, he rose in the air, and saw a city, outside of which there were thousands of priests and carts laden with bricks and all kinds of building materials. This was the city where Taoists were respected, and Buddhists were not wanted. The Monkey, who appeared among the people as a Taoist, was informed that the country was called the Ch'e Ch'ih, 'Slow-carts Country,' and for twenty years had been ruled by three Taoists who could procure rain during times of drought. Their names were Tiger, Deer, and Sheep. They could also command the wind, and change stones into gold. The Monkey said to the two leading Taoists: "I wonder if I shall be so fortunate as to see your Emperor?" They replied: "We will see to that when we have attended to our business." The Monkey inquired what business the priests could have. "In former times," they said, "when our King ordered the Buddhists to pray for rain, their prayers were not answered. Then the Taoists prayed, and copious showers fell. Since then all the Buddhist priests have been our slaves, and have to carry the building materials, as you see. We must assign them their work, and then will come to you." Sun replied: "Never mind; I am in search of an uncle of mine, from whom I have not heard for many years. Perhaps he is here among your slaves." They said: "You may see if you can find him."

Restraints on Freedom

Sun went to look for his uncle. Hearing this, many Buddhist priests surrounded him, hoping to be recognized as his lost relative. After a while he smiled. They asked him the reason. He said: "Why do you make no progress? Life is not meant for idleness." They said: "We cannot do anything. We are terribly oppressed." "What power have your masters?" "By using their magic they can call up wind or rain." "That is a small matter," said Sun. "What else can they do?" "They can make the pills of immortality, and change stone into gold."

Sun said: "These are also small matters; many can do the same. How did these Taoists deceive your King?" "The King attends their prayers night and day, expecting thereby to attain to immortality." "Why do you not leave the place?" "It is impossible, for the King has ordered pictures of us to be hung up everywhere. In all the numerous prefectures, magistracies, and market-places in Slow-carts Country are pictures of the Buddhist priests, and any official who catches a runaway priest is promoted three degrees, while every non-official receives fifty taels. The proclamation is signed by the King. So you see we are helpless." Sun then said: "You might as well die and end it all."

Immortal for Suffering

They replied: "A great number have died. At one time we numbered more than two thousand. But through deaths and suicides there now remain only about five hundred. And we who remain cannot die. Ropes cannot strangle us, swords cannot cut us; if we plunge into the river we cannot sink; poison does not kill us." Sun said: "Then you are fortunate, for you are all Immortals." "Alas!" said they, "we are immortal only for suffering. We get poor food. We have only sand to sleep on. But in the night hours spirits appear to us and tell us not to kill ourselves, for an Arhat will come from the East to deliver us. With him there is a disciple, the Great Holy One, the Equal of Heaven, most powerful and tender-hearted. He will put an end to these Taoists and have pity on us Buddhists."

The Saviour of the Buddhists

Inwardly Sun was glad that his fame had gone abroad. Returning to the city, he met the two chief Taoists. They asked him if he had found his relative. "Yes," he replied, "they are all my relatives!" They smiled and said: "How is it that you have so many relatives?" Sun said: "One hundred are my father's relatives, one hundred my mother's relatives, and the remainder my adopted relatives. If you will let all these priests depart with me, then I will enter the city with you; otherwise I will not enter." "You must be mad to speak to us in this way. The priests were given us by the King. If you had asked for a few only, we might have consented, but your request is altogether unreasonable." Sun then asked them three times if they would liberate the priests. When they finally refused, he grew very angry, took his magic spear from his ear and brandished it in the air, when all their heads fell off and rolled on the ground.

Anger of the Buddhist Priests

The Buddhist priests saw from a distance what had taken place, and shouted: "Murder, murder! The Taoist superintendents are being killed." They surrounded Sun, saying: "These priests are our masters; they go to the temple without visiting the King, and return home without taking leave of the King. The King is the high priest. Why have you killed his disciples? The Taoist chief priest will certainly accuse us Buddhist priests of the murders. What are we to do? If we go into the city with you they will make you pay for this with your life."

Sun laughed. "My friends," he said, "do not trouble yourselves over this matter. I am not the Master of the Clouds, but the Great Holy One, a disciple of the Holy Master from China, going to the Western Paradise to fetch the sacred books, and have come to save you."

"No, no," said they, "this cannot be, for we know him." Sun replied: "Having never met him, how can you know him?" They replied: "We have seen him in our dreams. The spirit of the planet Venus has described him to us and warned us not to make a mistake." "What description did he give?" asked Sun. They replied: "He has a hard head, bright eyes, a round, hairy face without cheeks, sharp teeth, prominent mouth, a hot temper, and is uglier than the Thunder-god. He has a rod of iron, caused a disturbance in Heaven itself, but later repented, and is coming with the Buddhist pilgrim in order to save mankind from calamities and misery." With mixed feelings Sun replied: "My friends, no doubt you are right in saying I am not Sun. I am only his disciple, who has come to learn how to carry out his plans. But," he added, pointing with his hand, "is not that Sun coming yonder?" They all looked in the direction in which he had pointed.

Sun bestows Talismans

Sun quickly changed himself from a Taoist priest, and appeared in his natural form. At this they all fell down and worshipped him, asking his forgiveness because their mortal eyes could not recognize him. They then begged him to enter the city and compel the demons to repent. Sun told them to follow him. He then went with them to a sandy place, emptied two carts and smashed them into splinters, and threw all the bricks, tiles, and timber into a heap, calling upon all the priests to disperse. "Tomorrow," he said, "I am going to see the King, and will destroy the Taoists!" Then they said: "Sir, we dare not go any farther, lest they attempt to seize you and cause trouble." "Have no fear," he replied; "but if you think so I will give you a charm to protect you." He pulled out some hairs, and gave one to each to hold firmly on the third finger. "If anyone tries to seize you," he said, "keep tight hold of it, call out 'Great Holy One, the Equal of Heaven,' and I will at once come to your rescue, even though I be ten thousand miles away." Some of them tried the charm, and, sure enough, there he was before them like the God of Thunder. In his hand he held a rod of iron, and he could keep ten thousand men and horses at bay.

The Magic Circle

It was now winter. The pilgrims were crossing a high mountain by a narrow pass, and the Master was afraid of wild beasts. The three disciples bade him fear not, as they were united, and were all good men seeking truth. Being cold and hungry they rejoiced to see a fine building ahead of them, but Sun said: "It is another devil's trap. I will make a ring round you. Inside that you will be safe. Do not wander outside it. I will go and look for food." Sun returned with his bowl full of rice, but found that his companions had got tired of waiting, and had disappeared. They had gone forward to the fine building, which Pa-chieh entered. Not a soul was to be seen, but on going upstairs he was terrified to see a human skeleton of immense size lying on the floor. At this moment the Demon of the house descended on them, bound the Master, and said: "We have been told that if we eat of your flesh our white hair will become black again, and our lost teeth grow anew." So he ordered the small devils who accompanied him to bind the others. This they did, and thrust the pilgrims into a cave, and then lay in wait for Sun. It was not long before the Monkey came up, when a great fight ensued. In the end, having failed, notwithstanding the exercise of numerous magic arts, to release his companions, Sun betook himself to the Spiritual Mountain and besought Ju Lai's aid. Eighteen lohan were sent to help him against the Demon. When Sun renewed the attack, the lohan threw diamond dust into the air, which blinded the Demon and also half buried him. But, by skilful use of his magic coil, he gathered up all the diamond dust and carried it back to his cave.

The lohan then advised Sun to seek the aid of the Ancient of Days. Accordingly, Sun ascended to the thirty-third Heaven, where was the palace of the god. He there discovered that the Demon was none other than one of the god's ox-spirits who had stolen the magic coil. It was, in fact, the same coil with which Sun himself had at last been subdued when he had rebelled against Heaven.

Help from Ju Lai

The Ancient of Days mounted a cloud and went with Sun to the cave. When the Demon saw who had come he was terrified. The Ancient of Days then recited an incantation, and the Demon surrendered the magic coil to him. On the recitation of a second incantation all his strength left him, and he appeared as a bull, and was led away by a ring in his nose. The Master and his disciples were then set at liberty, and proceeded on their journey.

The Fire-quenching Fan

In the autumn the pilgrims found themselves in the Ssu Ha Li Country, where everything was red—red walls, red tiles, red varnish on doors and furniture. Sixty li from this place was the Flaming Mountain, which lay on their road westward.

An old man they met told them that it was possible to cross the Flaming Mountain only if they had the Magic Iron Fan, which, waved once, quenched fire, waved a second time produced strong wind, and waved a third time produced rain. This magic fan was kept by the Iron-fan Princess in a cave on Ts'ui-yuen Shan, 1500 li distant. On hearing this, Sun mounted a cloud, and in an instant was transported to the cave. The Iron-fan Princess was one of the lochas (wives and daughters of demons), and the mother of the Red Child Demon, who had become a disciple of Kuan Yin. On seeing Sun she was very angry, and determined to be revenged for the outwitting of her husband, King Ox-head, and for the carrying away of her son. The Monkey said: "If you lend me the Iron Fan I will bring your son to see you." For answer she struck him with a sword. They then fell to fighting, the contest lasting a long while, until at length, feeling her strength failing, the Princess took out the Iron Fan and waved it. The wind it raised blew Sun to a distance of 84,000 li, and whirled him about like a leaf in a whirlwind. But he soon returned, reinforced by further magic power lent him by the Buddhist saints. The Princess, however, deceived him by giving him a fan which increased the flames of the mountain instead of quenching them. Sun and his friends had to retreat more than 20 li, or they would have been burned.

The local mountain-gods now appeared, bringing refreshments, and urging the pilgrims to get the Fan so as to enable them to proceed on their journey. Sun pointed to his fan and said: "Is not this the Fan?" They smiled and said: "No, this is a false one which the Princess has given you." They added: "Originally there was no Flaming Mountain, but when you upset the furnace in Heaven five hundred years ago the fire fell here, and has been burning ever since. For not having taken more care in Heaven, we have been set to guard it. The Demon-king Ox-head, though he married the locha Princess, deserted her some two years ago for the only daughter of a fox-king. They live at Chi-lei Shan, some three thousand li from here. If you can get the true Iron Fan through his help you will be able to extinguish the flames, take your Master to the West, save the lives of many people round here, and enable us to return to Heaven once more."

Sun at once mounted a cloud and was soon at Chi-lei Shan. There he met the Fox-princess, whom he upbraided and pursued back to her cave. The Ox-demon came out and became very angry with Sun for having frightened her. Sun asked him to return with him to the locha Princess and persuade her to give him the Magic Fan, This he refused to do. They then fought three battles, in all of which Sun was successful. He changed into the Ox-demon's shape and visited the locha Princess. She, thinking he was the Ox-demon, gladly received him, and finally gave him the Magic Fan; he then set out to return to his Master.

The Power of the Magic Fan

The Ox-demon, following after Sun, saw him walking along, joyfully carrying the Magic Fan on his shoulder. Now Sun had forgotten to ask how to make it small, like an apricot leaf, as it was at first. The Ox-demon changed himself into the form of Pa-chieh, and going up to Sun he said: "Brother Sun, I am glad to see you back; I hope you have succeeded." "Yes," replied Sun, and described his fights, and how he had tricked the Ox-demon's wife into giving him the Fan. The seeming Pa-chieh said: "You must be very tired after all your efforts; let me carry the Magic Fan for you." As soon as he had got possession of it he appeared in his true form, and tried to use it to blow Sun away 84,000 li, for he did not know that the Great Holy One had swallowed a wind-resisting pill, and was therefore immovable. He then put the Magic Fan in his mouth and fought with his two swords. He was a match for Sun in all the magic arts, but through the aid of Pa-chieh and the help of the local gods sent by the Master the Monkey was able to prevail against him. The Ox-demon changed himself many times into a number of birds, but for each of these Sun changed himself into a swifter and stronger one. The Ox-demon then changed himself into many beasts, such as tigers, leopards, bears, elephants, and an ox 10,000 feet long. He then said to Sun, with a laugh: "What can you do to me now?" Sun seized his rod of iron, and cried: "Grow!" He immediately became 100,000 feet high, with eyes like the sun and moon. They fought till the heavens and the earth shook with their onslaughts.

Defeat of the Ox-demon

The Ox-demon being of so fierce and terrible a nature, both Buddha in Heaven and the Taoist Celestial Ruler sent down whole legions of celebrated warriors to help the Master's servant. The Ox-demon tried to escape in every direction, one after the other, but his efforts were in vain. Finally defeated, he was made to promise for himself and his wife to give up their evil ways and to follow the holy precepts of the Buddhist doctrine.

The Magic Fan was given to Sun, who at once proceeded to test its powers. When he waved it once the fires on Flaming Mountain died out. When he waved it a second time a gentle breeze sprang up. When he waved it a third time refreshing rain fell everywhere, and the pilgrims proceeded on their way in comfort.

The Lovely Women

Having travelled over many mountains, the travellers came to a village. The Master said: "You, my disciples, are always very kind, taking round the begging-bowl and getting food for me. To-day I will take the begging-bowl myself." But Sun said: "That is not right; you must let us, your disciples, do this for you." But the Master insisted.

When he reached the village, there was not a man to be seen, but only some lovely women. He did not think that it was right for him to speak to women. On the other hand, if he did not procure anything for their meal, his disciples would make fun of him. So, after long hesitation, he went forward and begged food of them. They invited him to their cave home, and, having learnt who he was, ordered food for him, but it was all human flesh. The Master informed them that he was a vegetarian, and rose to take his departure, but instead of letting him go they surrounded and bound him, thinking that he would be a fine meal for them next day.

An Awkward Predicament

Then seven of the women went out to bathe in a pool. There Sun, in search of his Master, found them and would have killed them, only he thought it was not right to kill women. So he changed himself into an eagle and carried away their clothes to his nest. This so frightened the women that they crouched in the pool and did not dare to come out.

But Pa-chieh, also in search of his Master, found the women bathing. He changed himself into a fish, which the women tried to catch, chasing him hither and thither round the pool. After a while Pa-chieh leapt out of the pool and, appearing in his true form, threatened the women for having bound his Master. In their fright the women fled to a pavilion, round which they spun spiders' threads so thickly that Pa-chieh became entangled and fell. They then escaped to their cave and put on some clothes.

How the Master was Rescued

When Pa-chieh at length had disentangled himself from the webs, he saw Sun and Sha Ho-shang approaching. Having learnt what had happened, they feared the women might do some injury to the Master, so they ran to the cave to rescue him. On the way they were beset by the seven dwarf sons of the seven women, who transformed themselves into a swarm of dragon-flies, bees, and other insects. But Sun pulled out some hairs and, changing them into seven different swarms of flying insects, destroyed the hostile swarm, and the ground was covered a foot deep with the dead bodies. On reaching the cave, the pilgrims found it had been deserted by the women. They released the Master, and made him promise never to beg for food again. Having given the promise, he mounted his horse, and they proceeded on their journey.

The Spiders and the Extinguisher

When they had gone a short distance they perceived a great building of fine architecture ahead of them. It proved to be a Taoist temple. Sha Ho-shang said: "Let us enter, for Buddhism and Taoism teach the same things. They differ only in their vestments." The Taoist abbot received them with civility and ordered five cups of tea. Now he was in league with the seven women, and when the servant had made the tea they put poison in each cup. Sun, however, suspected a conspiracy, and did not drink his tea. Seeing that the rest had been poisoned, he went and attacked the sisters, who transformed themselves into huge spiders. They were able to spin ropes instead of webs with which to bind their enemies. But Sun attacked and killed them all.

The Taoist abbot then showed himself in his true form, a demon with a thousand eyes. He joined battle with Sun, and a terrible contest ensued, the result being that the Demon succeeded in putting an extinguisher on his enemy. This was a new trick which Sun did not understand. However, after trying in vain to break out through the top and sides, he began to bore downward, and, finding that the extinguisher was not deep in the ground, he succeeded in effecting his escape from below. But he feared that his Master and the others would die of the poison. At this juncture, while he was suffering mental tortures on their behalf, a Bodhisattva, Lady Pi Lan, came to his rescue. By the aid of her magic he broke the extinguisher, gave his Master and fellow-disciples pills to counteract the poison, and so rescued them.

Shaving a Whole City

The summer had now arrived. On the road the pilgrims met an old lady and a little boy. The old lady said: "You are priests; do not go forward, for you are about to pass into the country known as the Country that exterminates Religion. The inhabitants have vowed to kill ten thousand priests. They have already slain that number all but four noted ones whose arrival they expect; then their number will be complete."

This old lady was Kuan Yin, with Shen Tsai (Steward), who had come to give them warning. Sun thereupon changed himself into a candle-moth and flew into the city to examine for himself. He entered an inn, and heard the innkeeper warning his guests to look after their own clothes and belongings when they went to sleep. In order to travel safely through the city, Sun decided that they should all put on turbans and clothing resembling that of the citizens. Perceiving from the innkeeper's warning that thieving was common, Sun stole some clothing and turbans for his Master and comrades. Then they all came to the inn at dusk, Sun representing himself as a horse-dealer.

Fearing that in their sleep their turbans would fall off, and their shaven heads be revealed, Sun arranged that they should sleep in a cupboard, which he asked the landlady to lock.

During the night robbers came and carried the cupboard away, thinking to find in it silver to buy horses. A watchman saw many men carrying this cupboard, and became suspicious, and called out the soldiers. The robbers ran away, leaving the cupboard in the open. The Master was very angry with Sun for getting him into this danger. He feared that at daylight they would be discovered and all be executed. But Sun said: "Do not be alarmed; I will save you yet!" He changed himself into an ant, and escaped from the cupboard. Then he plucked out some hairs and changed them into a thousand monkeys like himself. To each he gave a razor and a charm for inducing sleep. When the King and all the officials and their wives had succumbed to this charm, the monkeys were to shave their heads.

On the morrow there was a terrible commotion throughout the city, as all the leaders and their families found themselves shaved like Buddhists.

Thus the Master was saved again.

The Return to China

The pilgrims having overcome the predicted eighty difficulties of their outward journey, there remained only one to be overcome on the homeward way.

They were now returning upon a cloud which had been placed at their disposal, and which had been charged to bear them safely home. But alas! the cloud broke and precipitated them to the earth by the side of a wide river which they must cross. There were no ferry-boats or rafts to be seen, so they were glad to avail themselves of the kind offices of a turtle, who offered to take them across on his back. But in midstream the turtle reminded Hsuean Chuang of a promise he had made him when on his outward journey, namely, that he would intercede for him before the Ruler of the West, and ask his Majesty to forgive all past offences and allow him to resume his humanity again. The turtle asked him if he had remembered to keep his word. Hsuean Chuang replied: "I remember our conversation, but I am sorry to say that under great pressure I quite forgot to keep my promise." "Then," said the turtle, "you are at liberty to dispense with my services." He then disappeared beneath the water, leaving the pilgrims floundering in the stream with their precious books. They swam the river, and with great difficulty managed to save a number of volumes, which they dried in the sun.

The Travellers Honoured

The pilgrims reached the capital of their country without further difficulty. As soon as they appeared in sight the whole population became greatly excited, and cutting down branches of willow-trees went out to meet them. As a mark of special distinction the Emperor sent his own horse for Hsuean Chuang to ride on, and the pilgrims were escorted with royal honours into the city, where the Emperor and his grateful Court were waiting to receive them. Hsuean Chuang's queer trio of converts at first caused great amusement among the crowds who thronged to see them, but when they learned of Sun's superhuman achievements, and his brave defence of the Master, their amusement was changed into wondering admiration.

But the greatest honours were conferred upon the travellers at a meeting of the Immortals presided over by Mi-lo Fo, the Coming Buddha. Addressing Hsuean Chuang, the Buddha said, "In a previous existence you were one of my chief disciples. But for disobedience and for lightly esteeming the great teaching your soul was imprisoned in the Eastern Land. Now a memorial has been presented to me stating that you have obtained the True Classics of Salvation, thus, by your faithfulness, completing your meritorious labours. You are appointed to the high office of Controller of Sacrifices to his Supreme Majesty the Pearly Emperor."

Turning to Sun, the Buddha said, "You, Sun, for creating a disturbance in the palace of Heaven, were imprisoned beneath the Mountain of the Five Elements, until the fullness of Heaven's calamities had descended upon you, and you had repented and had joined the holy religion of Buddha. From that time you have endeavoured to suppress evil and cherish virtue. And on your journey to the West you have subjugated evil spirits, ghosts, and demons. For your services you are appointed God of Victorious Strife."

For his repentance, and for his assistance to his Master, Chu Pa-chieh, the Pig Fairy, was appointed Head Altar-washer to the Gods. This was the highest office for which he was eligible, on account of his inherent greed.

Sha Ho-shang was elevated to the rank of Golden Body Perpetual Saint.

Pai Ma, the white horse who had patiently carried Hsuean Chuang and his burden of books, was led by a god down the Spirit Mountain to the banks of the Pool of Dragon-transformation. Pai Ma plunged in, when he changed at once into a four-footed dragon, with horns, scales, claws, and wings complete. From this time he became the chief of the celestial dragon tribe.

Sun's first thought upon receiving his promotion was to get rid of the Head-splitting Helmet. Accordingly he said to his Master, "Now that I am, like yourself, a Buddha, I want you to relieve my head of the helmet you imposed upon me during the years of my waywardness." Hsuean Chuang replied, "If you have really become a Buddha, your helmet should have disappeared of itself. Are you sure it is still upon your head?" Sun raised his hand, and lo! the helmet was gone.

After this the great assembly broke up, and each of the Immortals returned in peace to his own celestial abode.


Fox Legends

The Fox

Among the many animals worshipped by the Chinese, those at times seen emerging from coffins or graves naturally hold a prominent place. They are supposed to be the transmigrated souls of deceased human beings. We should therefore expect such animals as the fox, stoat, weasel, etc., to be closely associated with the worship of ghosts, spirits, and suchlike creatures, and that they should be the subjects of, or included in, a large number of Chinese legends. This we find. Of these animals the fox is mentioned in Chinese legendary lore perhaps more often than any other.

The subject of fox-lore has been dealt with exhaustively by my respected colleague, the late Mr Thomas Watters (formerly H.B.M. Consul-General at Canton, a man of vast learning and extreme modesty, insufficiently appreciated in his generation), in the Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, viii, 45-65, to which the reader is referred for details. Generally, the fox is a creature of ill omen, long-lived (living to eight hundred or even a thousand years), with a peculiar virtue in every part of his body, able to produce fire by striking the ground with his tail, cunning, cautious, sceptical, able to see into the future, to transform himself (usually into old men, or scholars, or pretty young maidens), and fond of playing pranks and tormenting mankind.

Fox Legends

Many interesting fox legends are to be found in a collection of stories entitled Liao chai chih i, by P'u Sung-ling (seventeenth century A.D.), part of which was translated into English many years ago by Professor H.A. Giles and appeared in two fascinating volumes called Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio. These legends were related to the Chinese writer by various people as their own experiences.

Friendship with Foxes

A certain man had an enormous stack of straw, as big as a hill, in which his servants, taking what was daily required for use, had made quite a large hole. In this hole a fox fixed his abode, and would often show himself to the master of the house under the form of an old man. One day the latter invited the master to walk into his abode; he at first declined, but accepted on being pressed; and when he got inside, lo! he saw a long suite of handsome apartments. They then sat down, and exquisitely perfumed tea and wine were brought; but the place was so gloomy that there was no difference between night and day. By and by, the entertainment being over, the guest took his leave; and on looking back the beautiful rooms and their contents had all disappeared. The old man himself was in the habit of going away in the evening and returning with the first streaks of morning; and as no one was able to follow him, the master of the house asked him one day whither he went. To this he replied that a friend invited him to take wine; and then the master begged to be allowed to accompany him, a proposal to which the old man very reluctantly consented. However, he seized the master by the arm, and away they went as though riding on the wings of the wind; and in about the time it takes to cook a pot of millet they reached a city and walked into a restaurant, where there were a number of people drinking together and making a great noise. The old man led his companion to a gallery above, from which they could look down on the feasters below; and he himself went down and brought away from the tables all kinds of nice food and wine, without appearing to be seen or noticed by any of the company. After a while a man dressed in red garments came forward and laid upon the table some dishes of cumquats; [36] the master at once requested the old man to go down and get him some of these. "Ah," replied the latter, "that is an upright man: I cannot approach him." Thereupon the master said to himself, "By thus seeking the companionship of a fox, I then am deflected from the true course. Henceforth I too will be an upright man." No sooner had he formed this resolution than he suddenly lost all control over his body, and fell from the gallery down among the revellers below. These gentlemen were much astonished by his unexpected descent; and he himself, looking up, saw there was no gallery to the house, but only a large beam upon which he had been sitting. He now detailed the whole of the circumstances, and those present made up a purse for him to pay his travelling expenses; for he was at Yue-t'ai—a thousand li from home.

The Marriage Lottery

A certain labourer, named Ma T'ien-jung, lost his wife when he was only about twenty years of age, and was too poor to take another. One day, when out hoeing in the fields, he beheld a nice-looking young lady leave the path and come tripping across the furrows toward him. Her face was well painted, [37] and she had altogether such a refined look that Ma concluded she must have lost her way, and began to make some playful remarks in consequence. "You go along home," cried the young lady, "and I'll be with you by and by." Ma doubted this rather extraordinary promise, but she vowed and declared she would not break her word; and then Ma went off, telling her that his front door faced the north, etc. At midnight the young lady arrived, and then Ma saw that her hands and face were covered with fine hair, which made him suspect at once that she was a fox. She did not deny the accusation; and accordingly Ma said to her, "If you really are one of those wonderful creatures you will be able to get me anything I want; and I should be much obliged if you would begin by giving me some money to relieve my poverty." The young lady said she would; and next evening, when she came again, Ma asked her where the money was. "Dear me!" replied she, "I quite forgot it." When she was going away Ma reminded her of what he wanted, but on the following evening she made precisely the same excuse, promising to bring it another day. A few nights afterward Ma asked her once more for the money, and then she drew from her sleeve two pieces of silver, each weighing about five or six ounces. They were both of fine quality, with turned-up edges, [38] and Ma was very pleased, and stored them away in a cupboard. Some months after this he happened to require some money for use, and took out these pieces; but the person to whom he showed them said they were only pewter, and easily bit off a portion of one of them with his teeth. Ma was much alarmed, and put the pieces away directly, taking the opportunity when evening came of abusing the young lady roundly. "It's all your bad luck," retorted she. "Real gold would be too much for your inferior destiny." There was an end of that; but Ma went on to say, "I always heard that fox-girls were of surpassing beauty; how is it you are not?" "Oh," replied the young lady, "we always adapt ourselves to our company. Now you haven't the luck of an ounce of silver to call your own; and what would you do, for instance, with a beautiful princess? My beauty may not be good enough for the aristocracy; but among your big-footed, bent-backed rustics, [39] why, it may safely be called 'surpassing'!"

A few months passed away, and then one day the young lady came and gave Ma three ounces of silver, saying, "You have often asked me for money, but in consequence of your bad luck I have always refrained from giving you any. Now, however, your marriage is at hand, and I here give you the cost of a wife, which you may also regard as a parting gift from me." Ma replied that he was not engaged, to which the young lady answered that in a few days a go-between would visit him to arrange the affair. "And what will she be like?" asked Ma. "Why, as your aspirations are for 'surpassing' beauty," replied the young lady, "of course she will be possessed of surpassing beauty." "I hardly expect that," said Ma; "at any rate, three ounces of silver will not be enough to get a wife." "Marriages," explained the young lady, "are made in the moon; [40] mortals have nothing to do with them." "And why must you be going away like this?" inquired Ma. "Because," answered she, "for us to meet only by night is not the proper thing. I had better get you another wife and have done with you." Then when morning came she departed, giving Ma a pinch of yellow powder, saying, "In case you are ill after we are separated, this will cure you." Next day, sure enough, a go-between did come, and Ma at once asked what the proposed bride was like; to which the former replied that she was very passable-looking. Four or five ounces of silver was fixed as the marriage present, Ma making no difficulty on that score, but declaring he must have a peep at the young lady. [41] The go-between said she was a respectable girl, and would never allow herself to be seen; however, it was arranged that they should go to the house together, and await a good opportunity. So off they went, Ma remaining outside while the go-between went in, returning in a little while to tell him it was all right. "A relative of mine lives in the same court, and just now I saw the young lady sitting in the hall. We have only got to pretend we are going to see my relative, and you will be able to get a glimpse of her." Ma consented, and they accordingly passed through the hall, where he saw the young lady sitting down with her head bent forward while some one was scratching her back. She seemed to be all that the go-between had said; but when they came to discuss the money it appeared that the young lady wanted only one or two ounces of silver, just to buy herself a few clothes, etc., which Ma thought was a very small amount; so he gave the go-between a present for her trouble, which just finished up the three ounces his fox-friend had provided. An auspicious day was chosen, and the young lady came over to his house; when lo! she was humpbacked and pigeon-breasted, with a short neck like a tortoise, and feet which were fully ten inches long. The meaning of his fox-friend's remarks then flashed upon him.

The Magnanimous Girl

At Chin-ling there lived a young man named Ku, who had considerable ability, but was very poor; and having an old mother, he was very loth to leave home. So he employed himself in writing or painting [42] for people, and gave his mother the proceeds, going on thus till he was twenty-five years of age without taking a wife. Opposite to their house was another building, which had long been untenanted; and one day an old woman and a young girl came to occupy it, but there being no gentleman with them young Ku did not make any inquiries as to who they were or whence they hailed. Shortly afterward it chanced that just as Ku was entering the house he observed a young lady come out of his mother's door. She was about eighteen or nineteen, very clever and refined-looking, and altogether such a girl as one rarely sets eyes on; and when she noticed Mr Ku she did not run away, but seemed quite self-possessed. "It was the young lady over the way; she came to borrow my scissors and measure," said his mother, "and she told me that there is only her mother and herself. They don't seem to belong to the lower classes. I asked her why she didn't get married, to which she replied that her mother was old. I must go and call on her to-morrow, and find out how the land lies. If she doesn't expect too much, you could take care of her mother for her." So next day Ku's mother went, and found that the girl's mother was deaf, and that they were evidently poor, apparently not having a day's food in the house. Ku's mother asked what their employment was, and the old lady said they trusted for food to her daughter's ten fingers. She then threw out some hints about uniting the two families, to which the old lady seemed to agree; but, on consultation with her daughter, the latter would not consent. Mrs Ku returned home and told her son, saying, "Perhaps she thinks we are too poor. She doesn't speak or laugh, is very nice-looking, and as pure as snow; truly no ordinary girl." There ended that; until one day, as Ku was sitting in his study, up came a very agreeable young fellow, who said he was from a neighbouring village, and engaged Ku to draw a picture for him. The two youths soon struck up a firm friendship and met constantly, and later it happened that the stranger chanced to see the young lady of over the way. "Who is that?" said he, following her with his eyes. Ku told him, and then he said, "She is certainly pretty, but rather stern in her appearance." By and by Ku went in, and his mother told him the girl had come to beg a little rice, as they had had nothing to eat all day. "She's a good daughter," said his mother, "and I'm very sorry for her. We must try and help them a little." Ku thereupon shouldered a peck of rice, and, knocking at their door, presented it with his mother's compliments. The young lady received the rice, but said nothing; and then she got into the habit of coming over and helping Ku's mother with her work and household affairs, almost as if she had been her daughter-in-law, for which Ku was very grateful to her, and whenever he had anything nice he always sent some of it in to her mother, though the young lady herself never once took the trouble to thank him. So things went on until Ku's mother got an abscess on her leg, and lay writhing in agony day and night. Then the young lady devoted herself to the invalid, waiting on her and giving her medicine with such care and attention that at last the sick woman cried out, "O that I could secure such a daughter-in-law as you to see this old body into its grave!" The young lady soothed her, and replied, "Your son is a hundred times more filial than I, a poor widow's only daughter." "But even a filial son makes a bad nurse," answered the patient; "besides, I am now drawing toward the evening of my life, when my body will be exposed to the mists and the dews, and I am vexed in spirit about our ancestral worship and the continuance of our line." As she was speaking Ku walked in; and his mother, weeping, said, "I am deeply indebted to this young lady; do not forget to repay her goodness." Ku made a low bow, but the young lady said, "Sir, when you were kind to my mother, I did not thank you; why then thank me?" Ku thereupon became more than ever attached to her; but could never get her to depart in the slightest degree from her cold demeanour toward himself. One day, however, he managed to squeeze her hand, upon which she told him never to do so again; and then for some time he neither saw nor heard anything of her. She had conceived a violent dislike to the young stranger above mentioned; and one evening, when he was sitting talking with Ku, the young lady appeared. After a while she got angry at something he said, and drew from her robe a glittering knife about a foot long. The young man, seeing her do this, ran out in a fright and she after him, only to find that he had vanished. She then threw her dagger up into the air, and whish! a streak of light like a rainbow, and something came tumbling down with a flop. Ku got a light, and ran to see what it was; and lo! there lay a white fox, head in one place and body in another. "There is your friend," cried the girl; "I knew he would cause me to destroy him sooner or later." Ku dragged it into the house, and said, "Let us wait till to-morrow to talk it over; we shall then be more calm." Next day the young lady arrived, and Ku inquired about her knowledge of the black art; but she told Ku not to trouble himself about such affairs, and to keep it secret or it might be prejudicial to his happiness. Ku then entreated her to consent to their union, to which she replied that she had already been as it were a daughter-in-law to his mother, and there was no need to push the thing further. "Is it because I am poor?" asked Ku. "Well, I am not rich," answered she, "but the fact is I had rather not." She then took her leave, and the next evening when Ku went across to their house to try once more to persuade her the young lady had disappeared, and was never seen again.

The Boon-companion

Once upon a time there was a young man named Ch'e, who was not particularly well off, but at the same time very fond of his wine; so much so that without his three stoups of liquor every night he was quite unable to sleep, and bottles were seldom absent from the head of his bed. One night he had waked up and was turning over and over, when he fancied some one was in the bed with him; but then, thinking it was only the clothes which had slipped off, he put out his hand to feel, and in doing so touched something silky like a cat. Striking a light, he found it was a fox, lying in a drunken sleep like a dog; and then looking at his wine bottle he saw that it had been emptied. "A boon-companion," said he, laughing, as he avoided startling the animal, and, covering it up, lay down to sleep with his arm across it, and the candle alight so as to see what transformation it might undergo. About midnight the fox stretched itself, and Ch'e cried, "Well, to be sure, you've had a nice sleep!" He then drew off the clothes, and beheld an elegant young man in a scholar's dress; but the young man jumped up, and, making a low obeisance, returned his host many thanks for not cutting off his head. "Oh," replied Ch'e, "I am not averse to liquor myself; in fact they say I'm too much given to it. If you have no objection, we'll be a pair of bottle-and-glass chums." So they lay down and went to sleep again, Ch'e urging the young man to visit him often, and saying that they must have faith in each other. The fox agreed to this, but when Ch'e awoke in the morning his bedfellow had already disappeared. So he prepared a goblet of first-rate wine in expectation of his friend's arrival, and at nightfall sure enough he came. They then sat together drinking, and the fox cracked so many jokes that Ch'e said he regretted he had not known him before. "And truly I don't know how to repay your kindness," replied the former, "in preparing all this nice wine for me." "Oh," said Ch'e, "what's a pint or so of wine?—nothing worth speaking of." "Well," rejoined the fox, "you are only a poor scholar, and money isn't so easily to be got. I must see if I can't secure a little wine capital for you." Next evening, when he arrived, he said to Ch'e, "Two miles down toward the south-east you will find some silver lying by the wayside. Go early in the morning and get it." So on the morrow Ch'e set off, and actually obtained two lumps of silver, with which he bought some choice morsels to help them out with their wine that evening. The fox now told him that there was a vault in his backyard which he ought to open; and when he did so he found therein more than a hundred strings of cash. [43] "Now then," cried Ch'e, delighted, "I shall have no more anxiety about funds for buying wine with all this in my purse!" "Ah," replied the fox, "the water in a puddle is not inexhaustible. I must do something further for you." Some days afterward the fox said to Ch'e, "Buckwheat is very cheap in the market just now. Something is to be done in that line." Accordingly Ch'e bought over forty tons, and thereby incurred general ridicule; but by and by there was a bad drought, and all kinds of grain and beans were spoilt. Only buckwheat would grow, and Ch'e sold off his stock at a profit of 1000 per cent. His wealth thus began to increase; he bought two hundred acres of rich land, and always planted his crops, corn, millet, or what not, upon the advice of the fox secretly given him beforehand. The fox looked on Ch'e's wife as a sister, and on Ch'e's children as his own; but when subsequently Ch'e died it never came to the house again.

The Alchemist [44]

At Ch'ang-an there lived a scholar named Chia Tzu-lung, who one day noticed a very refined-looking stranger; and, on making inquiries about him, learned that he was a Mr Chen who had taken lodgings hard by. Accordingly, Chia called next day and sent in his card, but did not see Chen, who happened to be out at the time. The same thing occurred thrice; and at length Chia engaged some one to watch and let him know when Mr Chen was at home. However, even then the latter would not come forth to receive his guest, and Chia had to go in and rout him out. The two now entered into conversation, and soon became mutually charmed with each other; and by and by Chia sent off a servant to bring wine from a neighbouring wine-shop. Mr Chen proved himself a pleasant boon-companion, and when the wine was nearly finished he went to a box and took from it some wine-cups and a large and beautiful jade tankard; into the latter he poured a single cup of wine, and immediately it was filled to the brim. They then proceeded to help themselves from the tankard; but however much they took out, the contents never seemed to diminish. Chia was astonished at this, and begged Mr Chen to tell him how it was done. "Ah," replied Mr Chen, "I tried to avoid making your acquaintance solely because of your one bad quality—avarice. The art I practise is a secret known to the Immortals only: how can I divulge it to you?" "You do me wrong," rejoined Chia, "in thus attributing avarice to me. The avaricious, indeed, are always poor." Mr Chen laughed, and they separated for that day; but from that time they were constantly together, and all ceremony was laid aside between them. Whenever Chia wanted money Mr Chen would bring out a black stone, and, muttering a charm, would rub it on a tile or a brick, which was forthwith changed into a lump of silver. This silver he would give to Chia, and it was always just as much as he actually required, neither more nor less; and if ever the latter asked for more Mr Chen would rally him on the subject of avarice. Finally Chia determined to try to get possession of this stone; and one day, when Mr Chen was sleeping off the fumes of a drinking-bout, he tried to extract it from his clothes. However, Chen detected him at once, and declared that they could be friends no more, and next day he left the place altogether. About a year afterward Chia was one day wandering by the river-bank, when he saw a handsome-looking stone, marvellously like that in the possession of Mr Chen; and he picked it up at once and carried it home with him. A few days passed away, and suddenly Mr Chen presented himself at Chia's house, and explained that the stone in question possessed the property of changing anything into gold, and had been bestowed upon him long before by a certain Taoist priest whom he had followed as a disciple. "Alas!" added he, "I got tipsy and lost it; but divination told me where it was, and if you will now restore it to me I will take care to repay your kindness." "You have divined rightly," replied Chia; "the stone is with me; but recollect, if you please, that the indigent Kuan Chung [45] shared the wealth of his friend Pao Shu." At this hint Mr Chen said he would give Chia one hundred ounces of silver; to which the latter replied that one hundred ounces was a fair offer, but that he would far sooner have Mr Chen teach him the formula to utter when rubbing the stone on anything, so that he might try the thing once himself. Mr Chen was afraid to do this; whereupon Chia cried out, "You are an Immortal yourself; you must know well enough that I would never deceive a friend." So Mr Chen was prevailed upon to teach him the formula, and then Chia would have tried the art upon the immense stone washing-block [46] which was lying near at hand had not Mr Chen seized his arm and begged him not to do anything so outrageous. Chia then picked up half a brick and laid it on the washing-block, saying to Mr Chen, "This little piece is not too much, surely?" Accordingly Mr Chen relaxed his hold and let Chia proceed; which he did by promptly ignoring the half-brick and quickly rubbing the stone on the washing-block. Mr Chen turned pale when he saw him do this, and made a dash forward to get hold of the stone, but it was too late; the washing-block was already a solid mass of silver, and Chia quietly handed him back the stone. "Alas! alas!" cried Mr Chen in despair, "what is to be done now? For, having thus irregularly conferred wealth upon a mortal, Heaven will surely punish me. Oh, if you would save me, give away one hundred coffins [47] and one hundred suits of wadded clothes." "My friend," replied Chia, "my object in getting money was not to hoard it up like a miser." Mr Chen was delighted at this; and during the next three years Chia engaged in trade, taking care to fulfil always his promise to Mr Chen. At the expiration of that time Mr Chen himself reappeared, and, grasping Chia's hand, said to him, "Trustworthy and noble friend, when we last parted the Spirit of Happiness impeached me before God, [48] and my name was erased from the list of angels. But now that you have carried out my request that sentence has been rescinded. Go on as you have begun, without ceasing." Chia asked Mr Chen what office he filled in Heaven; to which the latter replied that he was only a fox who, by a sinless life, had finally attained to that clear perception of the truth which leads to immortality. Wine was then brought, and the two friends enjoyed themselves together as of old; and even when Chia had passed the age of ninety years the fox still used to visit him from time to time.


Miscellaneous Legends

The Unnatural People

The Shan hai ching, or Hill and River Classic, contains descriptions of some curious people supposed to inhabit the regions on the maps represented on the nine tripod vases of the Great Yue, first emperor of the Hsia dynasty.

The Pygmies

The pygmies inhabit many mountainous regions of the Empire, but are few in number. They are less than nine inches high, but are well formed. They live in thatched houses that resemble ants' nests. When they walk out they go in companies of from six to ten, joining hands in a line for mutual protection against birds that might carry them away, or other creatures that might attack them. Their tone of voice is too low to be distinguished by an ordinary human ear. They occupy themselves in working in wood, gold, silver, and precious stones, but a small proportion are tillers of the soil. They wear clothes of a red colour. The sexes are distinguishable by a slight beard on the men, and long tresses on the women, the latter in some cases reaching four to five inches in length. Their heads are unduly large, being quite out of proportion to their small bodies. A husband and wife usually go about hand in hand. A Hakka charcoal-burner once found three of the children playing in his tobacco-box. He kept them there, and afterward, when he was showing them to a friend, he laughed so that drops of saliva flew from his mouth and shot two of them dead. He then begged his friend to take the third and put it in a place of safety before he should laugh again. His friend attempted to lift it from the box, but it died on being touched.

The Giants

In the Country of the Giants the people are fifty feet in height. Their footprints are six feet in length. Their teeth are like those of a saw. Their finger-nails present the appearance of hooked claws, while their diet consists wholly of uncooked animal food. Their eyebrows are of such length as to protrude from the front of the carts in which they ride, large though it is necessary for these vehicles to be. Their bodies are covered with long black hair resembling that of the bear. They live to the advanced age of eighteen thousand years. Though cannibals, they never eat members of their own tribe, confining their indulgence in human flesh chiefly to enemies taken in battle. Their country extends some thousands of miles along certain mountain ranges in North-eastern Asia, in the passes of which they have strong iron gates, easy to close, but difficult to open; hence, though their neighbours maintain large standing armies, they have thus far never been conquered.

The Headless People

The Headless People inhabit the Long Sheep range, to which their ancestors were banished in the remote past for an offence against the gods. One of the said ancestors had entered into a controversy with the rulers of the heavens, and they in their anger had transformed his two breasts into eyes and his navel into a mouth, removed his head, leaving him without nose and ears, thus cutting him off from smell and sound, and banished him to the Long Sheep Mountains, where with a shield and axe, the only weapons vouchsafed to the people of the Headless Country, he and his posterity were compelled to defend themselves from their enemies and provide their subsistence. This, however, does not in the least seem to have affected their tempers, as their bodies are wreathed in perpetual smiles, except when they flourish their warlike weapons on the approach of an enemy. They are not without understanding, because, according to Chinese notions of physiology, "their bellies are full of wisdom."

The Armless People

In the Mountains of the Sun and Moon, which are in the Centre of the Great Waste, are the people who have mo arms, but whose legs instead grow out of their shoulders. They pick flowers with their toes. They bow by raising the body horizontal with the shoulders, thus turning the face to the ground.

The Long-armed and Long-legged People

The Long-armed People are about thirty feet high, their arms reaching from the shoulders to the ground. Once when a company of explorers was passing through the country which borders on the Eastern Sea they inquired of an old man if he knew whether or not there were people dwelling beyond the waters. He replied that a cloth garment, in fashion and texture not unlike that of a Chinese coat, with sleeves thirty feet in length, had been found in the sea. The explorers fitted out an expedition, and the discovery of the Long-armed Country was the result.

The natives subsist for the most part on fish, which they obtain by wading in the water, and taking the fish with their hands instead of with hooks or nets.

The arms of the Long-legged People are of a normal length, the legs are developed to a length corresponding to that of the arms of the Long-armed People.

The country of the latter borders on that of the Long-legs. The habits and food of the two are similar. The difference in their physical structure makes them of mutual assistance, those with the long arms being able to take the shellfish of the shallow waters, while those with the long legs take the surface fish from the deeper localities; thus the two gather a harvest otherwise unobtainable.

The One-eyed People and Others

A little to the east of the Country of the Long-legs are to be found the One-eyed People. They have but one eye, rather larger than the ordinary human eye, placed in the centre of the forehead, directly above the nose. Other clans or families have but one arm and one leg, some having a right arm and left leg, others a left arm and right leg, while still others have both on the same side, and go in pairs, like shoes. Another species not only has but one arm and one leg, but is of such fashion as to have but one eye, one nostril, and beard on but one side of the face, there being as it were rights and lefts, the two in reality being one, for it is in this way that they pair. The Long-eared People resemble Chinese in all except their ears. They live in the far West among mountains and in caves. Their pendant, flabby ears extend to the ground, and would impede their feet in walking if they did not support them on their hands. They are sensitive to the faintest sound. Still another people in this region are distinguished by having six toes on each foot.

The Feathered People, etc.

The Feathered People are very tall, and are covered with fluffy down. They have wings in place of arms, and can fly short distances. On the points of the wings are claws, which serve as hands. Their noses are like beaks. Gentle and timid, they do not leave their own country. They have good voices, and like to sing ballads. If one wishes to visit this people he must go far to the south-east and then inquire. There is also the Land of the People with Three Faces, who live in the centre of the Great Waste and never die; the Land of the Three-heads, east of the K'un-lun Mountains; the Three-body Country, the inhabitants of which have one head with three bodies, three arms and but two legs; and yet another where the people have square heads, broad shoulders, and three legs, and the stones on the land are all gold and jade.

The People of the Punctured Bodies

Another community is said to be composed of people who have holes through their chests. They can be carried about on a pole put through the orifice, or may be comfortably hung upon a peg. They sometimes string themselves on a rope, and thus walk out in file. They are harmless people, and eat snakes that they kill with bows and arrows, and they are very long-lived.

The Women's Kingdom

The Women's Kingdom, the country inhabited exclusively by women, is said to be surrounded by a sea of less density than ordinary water, so that ships sink on approaching the shores. It has been reached only by boats carried thither in whirlwinds, and but few of those wrecked on its rocks have survived and returned to tell of its wonders. The women have houses, gardens, and shops. Instead of money they use gems, perforated and strung like beads. They reproduce their kind by sleeping where the south wind blows upon them.

The Land of the Flying Cart

Situated to the north of the Plain of Great Joy, the Land of the Flying Cart joins the Country of the One-armed People on the south-west and that of the Three-bodied People on the south-east. The inhabitants have but one arm, and an additional eye of large size in the centre of the forehead, making three eyes in all. Their carts, though wheeled, do not run along the ground, but chase each other in mid-air as gracefully as a flock of swallows. The vehicles have a kind of winged framework at each end, and the one-armed occupants, each grasping a flag, talk and laugh one to another in great glee during what might be called their aerial recreation were it not for the fact that it seems to be their sole occupation.

The Expectant Wife

A curious legend is told regarding a solitary, weird figure which stands out, rudely weatherworn, from a hill-top in the pass called Shao-hsing Gorge, Canton Province. This point of the pass is called Lung-men, or Dragon's Mouth, and the hill the Husband-expecting Hill. The figure itself, which is called the Expectant Wife, resembles that of a woman. Her bent head and figure down to the waist are very lifelike.

The story, widely known in this and the neighbouring province, runs as follows. Centuries ago a certain poor woman was left by her husband, who went on a journey into Kwangsi, close by, but in those days considered a wild and distant region, full of dangers. He promised to return in three years. The time went slowly and sadly past, for she dearly loved her lord, but no husband appeared. He, ungrateful and unfaithful spouse, had fallen in love with a fair one in Kwangsi, a sorceress or witch, who threw a spell over him and charmed him to his destruction, turning him at length into stone. To this day his figure may be seen standing near a cave close by the river which is known by the name of the Detained Man Cave.

The wife, broken by grief at her husband's failure to return, was likewise turned into a stone, and it is said that a supernatural power will one day bring the couple to life again and reward the ever-faithful wife. The legend receives entire credence from the simple boatmen sad country people.

The Wild Men

The wild beasts of the mountain have a king. He is a wild man, with long, thick locks, fiery red in colour, and his body is covered with hair. He is very strong: with a single blow of his huge fist, he can break large rocks to pieces; he also can pull up the trees of the forest by the root. His flesh is as hard as iron and is invulnerable to the thrusts of knife, spear, or sword. He rides upon a tiger when he leaves his home; he rules over the wolves, leopards, and tigers, and governs all their affairs. Many other wild men, like him in appearance, live in these mountains, but on account of his great strength he alone is king. These wild men kill and eat all human beings they meet, and other hill tribes live in terror of meeting them. Indeed, who of all these mountain people would have been left alive had not some men, more crafty than their fellows, devised a means of overpowering these fierce savages?

This is the method referred to: On leaving his home the herb-gatherer of the mountains arms himself with two large hollow bamboo tubes which he slips over his wrists and arms; he also carries a jar of very strong wine. When he meets one of the wild men he stands still and allows the giant to grasp him by the arm. As the giant holds him fast, as he supposes, in his firm grasp, he quietly and slowly withdraws one arm from the bamboo cuff, and, taking the pot of wine from the other hand, quickly pours it down the throat of the stooping giant, whose mouth is wide open with immoderate laughter at the thought of having captured a victim so easily. The potent draught of wine acts at once, causing the victim to drop to the ground in a dead sleep, whereupon the herb-gatherer either dispatches him summarily with a thrust through the heart, or leaves the drunken tyrant to sleep off the effect of his draught, while he returns again to his work of collecting the health-restoring herbs. In this way have the numbers of these wild men become less and less, until at the present time but few remain.

The Jointed Snake

The people on O-mei Shan tell of a wonderful kind of snake that is said to live there. Part of its life is spent among the branches of the trees; if by chance it falls to the ground it breaks up into two or more pieces. These separate segments later on come together again and unite.

Many other marvellous and interesting tales are related of this mountain and its inhabitants.

The Casting of the Great Bell

In every province of China there is a legend relating to the casting of the great bell swung in the bell tower of the chief city. These legends are curiously identical in almost every detail. The following is the one current in Peking.

It was in the reign of Yung Lo, the third monarch of the Ming dynasty, that Peking first became the capital of China. Till that period the 'Son of Heaven' had held his Court at Nanking, and Peking had been of comparatively little note. Now, however, on being honoured by the 'Sacred Presence,' stately buildings arose in all directions for the accommodation of the Emperor and his courtiers. Clever men from all parts of the Empire were attracted to the capital, and such as possessed talent were sure of lucrative employment. About this time the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower were built; both of them as 'look-out' and 'alarm' towers. The Drum Tower was furnished with a monster drum, which it still possesses, of such a size that the thunder of its tones might be heard all over the city, the sound being almost enough to waken the dead.

The Bell Tower had been completed some time before attempts were made to cast a bell proportionate to the size of the building. At length Yung Lo ordered Kuan Yu, a mandarin of the second grade, who was skilled in casting guns, to cast a bell the sound of which should be heard, on the least alarm, in every part of the city. Kuan Yu at once commenced the undertaking. He secured the services of a great number of experienced workmen, and collected immense quantities of material. Months passed, and at length it was announced to the Emperor that everything was ready for the casting. A day was appointed; the Emperor, surrounded by a crowd of courtiers, and preceded by the Court musicians, went to witness the ceremony. At a given signal, and to the crash of music, the melted metal rushed into the mould prepared for it. The Emperor and his Court then retired, leaving Kuan Yu and his subordinates to await the cooling of the metal, which would tell of failure or success. At length the metal was sufficiently cool to detach the mould from it. Kuan Yu, in breathless trepidation, hastened to inspect it, but to his mortification and grief discovered it to be honeycombed in many places. The circumstance was reported to the Emperor, who was naturally vexed at the expenditure of so much time, labour, and money with so unsatisfactory a result. However, he ordered Kuan Yu to try again.

The mandarin hastened to obey, and, thinking the failure of the first attempt must have resulted from some oversight or omission on his part, he watched every detail with redoubled care and attention, fully determined that no neglect or remissness should mar the success of this second casting.

After months of labour the mould was again prepared, and the metal poured into it, but again with the same result. Kuan Yu was distracted, not only at the loss of his reputation, but at the certain loss of the Emperor's favour. Yung Lo, when he heard of this second failure, was very wroth, and at once ordered Kuan Yu into his presence, and told him he would give him a third and last trial, and if he did not succeed this time he would behead him. Kuan Yu went home in a despairing state of mind, asking himself what crime he or any of his ancestors could have committed to have justified this calamity.

Now Kuan Yu had an only daughter, about sixteen years of age, and, having no sons, the whole of his love was centred in this girl, for he had hopes of perpetuating his name and fame through her marriage with some deserving young nobleman. Truly she was worthy of being loved. She had "almond-shaped eyes, like the autumn waves, which, sparkling and dancing in the sun, seem to leap up in very joy and wantonness to kiss the fragrant reeds that grow upon the rivers' banks, yet of such limpid transparency that one's form could be seen in their liquid depths as if reflected in a mirror. These were surrounded by long silken lashes—now drooping in coy modesty, anon rising in youthful gaiety and disclosing the laughing eyes but just before concealed beneath them. Eyebrows like the willow leaf; cheeks of snowy whiteness, yet tinged with the gentlest colouring of the rose; teeth like pearls of the finest water were seen peeping from between half-open lips, so luscious and juicy that they resembled two cherries; hair of the jettiest blackness and of the silkiest texture. Her form was such as poets love to describe and painters limn; there was grace and ease in every movement; she appeared to glide rather than walk, so light was she of foot. Add to her other charms that she was skilful in verse-making, excellent in embroidery, and unequalled in the execution of her household duties, and we have but a faint description of Ko-ai, the beautiful daughter of Kuan Yu."

Well might the father be proud of and love his beautiful child, and she returned his love with all the ardour of her affectionate nature; often cheering him with her innocent gaiety when he returned from his daily vocations wearied or vexed. Seeing him now return with despair depicted in his countenance, she tenderly inquired the cause, not without hope of being the means of alleviating it. When her father told her of his failures, and of the Emperor's threat, she exclaimed: "Oh, my father, be comforted! Heaven will not always be thus unrelenting. Are we not told that 'out of evil cometh good'? These two failures will but enhance the glory of your eventual success, for success this time must crown your efforts. I am only a girl, and cannot assist you but with my prayers; these I will daily and hourly offer up for your success; and the prayers of a daughter for a loved parent must be heard." Somewhat soothed by the endearments of Ko-ai, Kuan Yu again devoted himself to his task with redoubled energy, Ko-ai meanwhile constantly praying for him in his absence, and ministering to his wants when he returned home. One day it occurred to the maiden to go to a celebrated astrologer to ascertain the cause of these failures, and to ask what means could be taken to prevent a recurrence of them. She thus learned that the next casting would also be a disappointment if the blood of a maiden were not mixed with the ingredients. She returned home full of horror at this information, yet inwardly resolving to immolate herself rather than allow her father to fail. The day for the casting at length came, and Ko-ai requested her father to allow her to witness the ceremony and "to exult in his success," as she laughingly said. Kuan Yu gave his consent, and accompanied by several servants she went, taking up a position near the mould.

Everything was prepared as before. An immense concourse assembled to witness the third and final casting, which was to result either in honour or degradation and death for Kuan Yu. A dead silence prevailed through the vast assemblage as the melted metal once more rushed to its destination; this was broken by a shriek, and a cry, "For my father!" and Ko-ai was seen to throw herself headlong into the seething, hissing metal. One of her servants attempted to seize her while in the act of plunging into the boiling fluid, but succeeded only in grasping one of her shoes, which came off in his hand. The father was frantic, and had to be kept by force from following her example; he was taken home a raving maniac. The prediction of the astrologer was fulfilled, for, on uncovering the bell after it had cooled, it was found to be perfect, but not a vestige of Ko-ai was to be seen; the blood of a maiden had indeed been infused with the ingredients.

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