Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories by Yuan Mei

By Kam Louie; Louise Edwards et al. | Go to book overview
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Animals and Humans Are
Equally Unpredictable

"One should not keep a chicken for longer than three years and dogs should be gotten rid of after a maximum of six"--or so the saying goes in the Soushenji. Animals, it appears, should not be kept for too long.

One of my domestic servants, a man by the name of Sun Huizhong, had a big yellow dog that everyone knew to be docile and quite harmless. It had the endearing habit of begging food off the dinner table with a cheerful wag of its tail.

The dog always saw Sun off when he left on an errand and faithfully greeted him on his return home. Sun, of course, was extremely fond of his canine friend--that is, until the day the dog gouged a hole in Sun's hand as he passed down a piece of meat.

The wound was incredibly painful and poor Sun fainted from the shock and fell to the floor. Once he had recovered sufficiently, Sun beat his dog to death.

The unpredictable nature of animal behavior is similarly illustrated by the example of a tiger keeper from Yangzhou by the name of Zhao Jiu. He made his living by parading a caged tiger around the markets.

For ten coppers Zhao would let the tiger out of its cage, then place his head inside the animal's mouth and rub it between the mighty jaws until it was quite dripping with saliva. The watching crowd would roar with laughter as Zhao wandered off unharmed.

He performed this amazing stunt many times over a period of two years without mishap, until one day, while performing at Pingshan Pavilion, the tiger severed his head with one mighty bite.

The shocked crowd hurriedly notified their local officials of the disaster and a hunter was dispatched with instructions to kill the tiger.

So, because animals are regarded as unpredictable, we are often advised that humans should not live in close proximity to birds or

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Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories by Yuan Mei
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