Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories by Yuan Mei

By Kam Louie; Louise Edwards et al. | Go to book overview

Tricking the Thunder God

Zhao Licun, a demobilized soldier from Nanfeng County, once told me of a strange event that occurred during the Ming dynasty. The story had been passed down from one of his ancestors, a man of exceptional talent who lived in the village in question.

At one point, when the anarchy and chaos of the Ming had reached its peak, the village was repeatedly terrorized by bandits who would extort money from the locals during festivals and the like. It wasn't long before the villagers' suffering became intolerable, so Zhao took it upon himself to report these criminals to the law. The bandits were forthwith officially banned from entering the village and this left them without their primary source of income. Naturally, they were furious.

Because Zhao had official backing, the bandits couldn't personally take revenge on him, so they decided to invoke a higher authority. Whenever thunder clouds banked up on the horizon, the bandits would gather together with all their wives and children and pray to the thunder god for assistance, chanting: "Please strike down that evil Mr. Zhao."

Their prayers were accompanied by ritual sacrifices of pigs and the like, and were not without results.

One day, Mr. Zhao was pottering around in his garden when suddenly there was a great crashing boom. A sulfureous smell filled the garden and down from the sky came a hairy fellow with a mouth like a beak. Zhao recognized this to be the thunder god and deduced that he must have been tricked by the bandits.

He quickly threw the nearby chamber pot at the thunder god, shouting: "Thunder god! In all the fifty years I've been alive, I've never seen you dare to strike a tiger! You always pick on the humble water buffalo! What is it that makes you victimize the weak and gentle? How can you be such a bully? What's your purpose in coming here? Go on, then, you can destroy me or simply ruin me, but you know, I won't hate you, I'll just pity you!"

-13-

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Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories by Yuan Mei
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xxi
  • Deputy Prefect LI 3
  • Scholar Cai 7
  • Revenge of the Skull 8
  • General Zhao Spears the Cheeky Monster 9
  • The Magistrate of Pingyang 11
  • Tricking the Thunder God 13
  • Ghosts Are Afraid of Those Unafraid of Death 15
  • Scholar Qiu 16
  • Ghosts Have Only Three Tricks 18
  • Master Chen Qingke Blows the Ghost Away 20
  • The Tall Ghost is Captured 22
  • The Lady Ghost of the Western Garden 24
  • A Sentry is Struck by Lightning 26
  • In Which Hunters Expurgate the Fox Fairies 28
  • The Goats Who Fulfilled Their Fate 31
  • Capturing a Ghost 33
  • Mr. Xu 35
  • The Hairy People of Qin 37
  • The Human Ape 38
  • The Human Prawn 39
  • The Duck's Lover 40
  • The Spirit of the Turtle Stone 41
  • Ghosts Who Play with Firecrackers May Burn Themselves 46
  • Kaxiong 48
  • Freak Wind 51
  • The Old Woman Who Was Transformed into a Wolf 53
  • A Loyal Dog Makes Use of Another Dog's Body 54
  • Leng Qiujiang 56
  • The Nailed-Up Specter Makes Good Her Escape 58
  • The Messenger of Death Who Loved His Wine 60
  • A Fox Fairy Plays Guanyin for Three Years 63
  • Butterfingered Scholar Wu 66
  • The Patriarch of Fox Fairies 69
  • Swindled by the Earth God's Wife 72
  • The Good Little Ghost 74
  • The Ghosts Who Pretended They Could Speak Mandarin 76
  • The City God Gets Drunk 78
  • Two Great Ways to Deal with Ghosts 81
  • The Immortal Prostitute 82
  • Zhang Youhua 85
  • A Ghost Borrows an Official Title for a Daughter's Marriage 87
  • The Bear 89
  • Two Corpses Make Love in the Wilderness 90
  • King Buffalo Head 92
  • The Muddleheaded Ghost 94
  • The Ghost That Stood in Awe of the Powerful 95
  • The Lovesick Ghost 96
  • Thunder Strikes the Earth God 98
  • Zhang Guangxiong 100
  • The Blue-Capped Demon 104
  • Cousin Raccoon 107
  • An Imprisoned Ghost 108
  • A Fox Fairy and a Ghost Invade the Stomach 111
  • The Immortal Fox Fairy Hangs Itself 114
  • Ghosts Hate Poverty 115
  • Xiao Fu 116
  • A Jeweled Pagoda Formed by Ghosts 118
  • The Land Without Doors 120
  • Scholar Song 122
  • Scholar Zhuang 125
  • Little Mischief 128
  • Commander Wang 130
  • The Sea Monster of Jiangxi 133
  • The Sparrows Repay a Debt of Kindness 134
  • Quan Gu 136
  • A Ghost is Chased off by a Ghost 139
  • The Folding Immortal 141
  • Demons Are Terrified of Rationalism 144
  • Spiritual Man Luo Catches the Wrong Demon 146
  • The Thunder God Strikes Wang San 148
  • Memories of Suiyan 151
  • The Cool Old Man 155
  • A Tiger Steals the God of Literature's Head 158
  • Revenge on the Warrior of the Flowers 161
  • The Wooden Guardsmen 163
  • A Woman Transforms into a Man 164
  • The Prince of Guazhou 165
  • Yang Er 167
  • Helping a Ghost Get Revenge 169
  • A Donkey Helps Solve a Strange Case 173
  • Scholar Zhang 176
  • The Reincarnation of Cai Jing 178
  • Hanging onto the Ears of a Tiger 180
  • Animals and Humans Are Equally Unpredictable 182
  • A Ghost Buys Herself a Son 184
  • Poor Ghosts Haunt, Rich Ghosts Don't Bother 188
  • Revenge of the Wronged Wife 189
  • A Ghost Makes an Offering of Dumplings 190
  • You Don't Have to Be Virtuous to Become a God 193
  • In Which the Ghost Sues Her Loved One 196
  • Elder Brother Ding 202
  • Miss Wang Er 204
  • Double Blossom Temple 206
  • The Female Impersonator 209
  • Tools of the Sex Trade 212
  • Stealing Ginseng 215
  • Stealing a Painting 217
  • Stealing a Pair of Boots 218
  • Stealing a Wall 220
  • Daylight Ghosts 222
  • About the Translators 223
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