Myths and Legends of China

Page: 117

Miao Shan had returned to Hsiang Shan, leaving in the palace the bodily form of the priest. She saw the two traitors Ho Fêng and Chao K’uei preparing the poison, and was aware of their wicked intentions. Calling the spirit Yu I, who was on duty that day, she told him to fly to the palace and change into a harmless soup the poison about to be administered to the King and to bind the assassin hand and foot.

At midnight Ho Li, carrying in his hand the poisoned drink, knocked at the door of the royal apartment, and said to the Queen that the priest had prepared a soothing potion while awaiting the return of the ministers. “I come,” he said, “to offer it to his Majesty.” The Queen took the bowl in her hands and was about to give it to the King, when Yu I arrived unannounced. Quick as thought he snatched the bowl from the Queen and poured Page 279the contents on the ground; at the same moment he knocked over those present in the room, so that they all rolled on the floor.

At the time this was happening the assassin Su Ta entered the priest’s room, and struck him with his sword. Instantly the assassin, without knowing how, found himself enwrapped in the priest’s robe and thrown to the ground. He struggled and tried to free himself, but found that his hands had been rendered useless by some mysterious power, and that flight was impossible. The spirit Yu I, having fulfilled the mission entrusted to him, now returned to Hsiang Shan and reported to Miao Shan.

A Confession and its Results

Next morning, the two sons-in-law of the King heard of the turn things had taken during the night. The whole palace was in a state of the greatest confusion.

When he was informed that the priest had been killed, the King called Ch’u Ting-lieh and ordered him to have the murderer arrested. Su Ta was put to the torture and confessed all that he knew. Together with Ho Li he was condemned to be cut into a thousand pieces.

The two sons-in-law were seized and ordered to instant execution, and it was only on the Queen’s intercession that their wives were spared. The infuriated King, however, ordered that his two daughters should be imprisoned in the palace.

The Gruesome Remedy

Meantime Chao Chên and Liu Ch’in had reached Hsiang Shan. When they were brought to Miao Shan the ministers took out the King’s letter and read it to her. Page 280“I, Miao Chuang, King of Hsing Lin, have learned that there dwells at Hsiang Shan an Immortal whose power and compassion have no equal in the whole world. I have passed my fiftieth year, and am afflicted with ulcers that all remedies have failed to cure. To-day a priest has assured me that at Hsiang Shan I can obtain the hand and eye of a living person, with which he will prepare an ointment able to restore me to my usual state of health. Relying upon his word and upon the goodness of the Immortal to whom he has directed me, I venture to beg that those two parts of a living body necessary to heal my ulcers be sent to me. I assure you of my everlasting gratitude, fully confident that my request will not be refused.”