Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories by Yuan Mei

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

A Sentry Is Struck by Lightning

In 1738, during the Qianlong emperor's reign, a sentry died after being struck by lightning. The event was considered rather strange by those who knew the dead man because he was generally thought of as a decent sort of fellow.

Then an old soldier told the deceased's story. "Although he has lived a decent life these last few years, twenty years ago, after he joined the forces, there was a nasty incident involving him that I got to hear about, since we were in the same platoon. The general had arranged to do some hunting in the Gaoting Mountain region and our now-dead colleague was instructed to set up camp along the road.

"It so happened that as night was falling a young nun came walking past the tents. The soldier, checking first that no one was around, dragged her into one of the tents and tried to rape her. She fought back and was finally able to escape, albeit without her trousers. The soldier chased the nun for quite some time, but when she took refuge in a farmhouse he had to return to the campsite unsatisfied.

"At the time, the mistress of the farmhouse was alone with her small son, since her husband, a casual laborer, was still out working. She was not at all keen to let this strange nun into her house, but after the nun explained what had happened and begged for assistance the woman softened and drew her inside. The nun borrowed a pair of trousers and promised to return them within three days. By dawn the next day the nun had left the house.

"When the laborer returned home for a fresh pair of clothes, his wife discovered that in her haste she must have given the nun her husband's trousers instead of her own, since there were no more clean trousers belonging to her husband in the chest. Annoyed by her mistake, she was just about to explain everything to her husband when their young boy said, 'A monk came last night and wore them home.'

"The husband grew suspicious and pressed the boy for more details.

-26-

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