Myths and Legends of China
Shaving a Whole City
The summer had now arrived. On the road the pilgrims met an old lady and a little boy. The old lady said: “You are priests; do not go forward, for you are about to pass into the country known as the Country that exterminates Religion. The inhabitants have vowed to kill ten thousand priests. They have already slain that number all but four noted ones whose arrival they expect; then their number will be complete.”
This old lady was Kuan Yin, with Shên Tsai (Steward), who had come to give them warning. Sun thereupon changed himself into a candle-moth and flew into the city to examine for himself. He entered an inn, and heard the innkeeper warning his guests to look after their own clothes and belongings when they went to sleep. In order to travel safely through the city, Sun decided that they should all put on turbans and clothing resembling that of the citizens. Perceiving from the innkeeper’s warning that thieving was common, Sun stole some clothing and turbans for his Master and comrades. Then they all came to the inn at dusk, Sun representing himself as a horse-dealer.
Fearing that in their sleep their turbans would fall off, and their shaven heads be revealed, Sun arranged that they should sleep in a cupboard, which he asked the landlady to lock.
During the night robbers came and carried the cupboard Page 366away, thinking to find in it silver to buy horses. A watchman saw many men carrying this cupboard, and became suspicious, and called out the soldiers. The robbers ran away, leaving the cupboard in the open. The Master was very angry with Sun for getting him into this danger. He feared that at daylight they would be discovered and all be executed. But Sun said: “Do not be alarmed; I will save you yet!” He changed himself into an ant, and escaped from the cupboard. Then he plucked out some hairs and changed them into a thousand monkeys like himself. To each he gave a razor and a charm for inducing sleep. When the King and all the officials and their wives had succumbed to this charm, the monkeys were to shave their heads.
On the morrow there was a terrible commotion throughout the city, as all the leaders and their families found themselves shaved like Buddhists.
Thus the Master was saved again.