Myths and Legends of China
An Avatar of the Intelligent Pearl
Li Ching seized his sword and went into his wife’s room, which he found filled with a red light exhaling a most extraordinary odour. A ball of flesh was rolling on the floor like a wheel; with a blow of his sword he cut it open, and a babe emerged, surrounded by a halo of red light. Its face was very white, a gold bracelet was on its right wrist, and it wore a pair of red silk trousers, from which proceeded rays of dazzling golden light. The bracelet was ‘the horizon of Heaven and earth,’ and the two precious objects belonged to the cave Chin-kuang Tung of T’ai-i Chên-jên, the priest who had bestowed them upon him when he appeared to his mother during her sleep. The child itself was an avatar of Ling Chu-tzŭ, ‘the Intelligent Pearl.’
On the morrow T’ai-i Chên-jên returned and asked Li Ching’s permission to see the new-born babe. “He shall be called No-cha,” he said, “and will become my disciple.”
A Precocious Youth
At seven years of age No-cha was already six feet in height. One day he asked his mother if he might go for a walk outside the town. His mother granted him permission on condition that he was accompanied by a servant. She also counselled him not to remain too long outside the wall, lest his father should become anxious. Page 307
It was in the fifth moon: the heat was excessive. No-cha had not gone a li before he was in a profuse perspiration. Some way ahead he saw a clump of trees, to which he hastened, and, settling himself in the shade, opened his coat, and breathed with relief the fresher air. In front of him he saw a stream of limpid green water running between two rows of willows, gently agitated by the movement of the wind, and flowing round a rock. The child ran to the banks of the stream, and said to his guardian: “I am covered with perspiration, and will bathe from the rock.” “Be quick,” said the servant; “if your father returns home before you he will be anxious.” No-cha stripped himself, took his red silk trousers, several feet long, and dipped them in the water, intending to use them as a towel. No sooner were the magic trousers immersed in the stream than the water began to boil, and Heaven and earth trembled. The water of this river, the Chiu-wan Ho, ‘Nine-bends River,’ which communicated with the Eastern Sea, turned completely red, and Lung Wang’s palace shook to its foundations. The Dragon-king, surprised at seeing the walls of his crystal palace shaking, called his officers and inquired: “How is it that the palace threatens to collapse? There should not be an earthquake at this time.” He ordered one of his attendants to go at once and find out what evil was giving rise to the commotion. When the officer reached the river he saw that the water was red, but noticed nothing else except a boy dipping a band of silk in the stream. He cleft the water and called out angrily: “That child should be thrown into the water for making the river red and causing Lung Wang’s palace to shake.”
“Who is that who speaks so brutally?” said No-cha. Page 308Then, seeing that the man intended to seize him, he jumped aside, took his gold bracelet, and hurled it in the air. It fell on the head of the officer, and No-cha left him dead on the rock. Then he picked up his bracelet and said smiling: “His blood has stained my precious horizon of Heaven and earth.” He then washed it in the water.
The Slaying of the Dragon-king’s Son
“How is it that the officer does not return?” inquired Lung Wang. At that moment attendants came to inform him that his retainer had been murdered by a boy.
Thereupon Ao Ping, the third son of Lung Wang, placing himself at the head of a troop of marines, his trident in his hand, left the palace precincts. The warriors dashed into the river, raising on every side waves mountains high. Seeing the water rising, No-cha stood up on the rock and was confronted by Ao Ping mounted on a sea-monster.
“Who slew my messenger?” cried the warrior.
“I did,” answered No-cha.
“Who are you?” demanded Ao Ping.
“I am No-cha, the third son of Li Ching of Ch’ên-t’ang Kuan. I came here to bathe and refresh myself; your messenger cursed me, and I killed him. Then—”
“Rascal! do you not know that your victim was a deputy of the King of Heaven? How dare you kill him, and then boast of your crime?”