Myths and Legends of China
Page: 131So saying, Ao Ping thrust at the boy with his trident. No-cha, by a brisk move, evaded the thrust.
“Who are you?” he asked in turn.
“Ah, you are a blusterer,” jeered the boy; “if you dare to touch me I will skin you alive, you and your mud-eels!”
“You make me choke with rage,” rejoined Ao Ping, at the same time thrusting again with his trident.
Furious at this renewed attack, No-cha spread his silk trousers in the air, and thousands of balls of fire flew out of them, felling Lung Wang’s son. No-cha put his foot on Ao Ping’s head and struck it with his magic bracelet, whereupon he appeared in his true form of a dragon.
“I am now going to pull out your sinews,” he said, “in order to make a belt for my father to use to bind on his cuirass.”
No-cha was as good as his word, and Ao Ping’s escort ran and informed Lung Wang of the fate of his son. The Dragon-king went to Li Ching and demanded an explanation.
Being entirely ignorant of what had taken place, Li Ching sought No-cha to question him.
An Unruly Son
No-cha was in the garden, occupied in weaving the belt of dragon-sinew. The stupefaction of Li Ching may be imagined. “You have brought most awful misfortunes upon us,” he exclaimed. “Come and give an account of your conduct.” “Have no fear,” replied No-cha superciliously; “his son’s sinews are still intact; I will give them back to him if he wishes.”
When they entered the house he saluted the Dragon-king, made a curt apology, and offered to return his son’s sinews. The father, moved with grief at the sight of the proofs of the tragedy, said bitterly to Li Ching: Page 310“You have such a son and yet dare to deny his guilt, though you heard him haughtily admitting it! To-morrow I shall report the matter to Yü Huang.” Having spoken thus, he departed.
Li Ching was overwhelmed at the enormity of his son’s crime. His wife, in an adjoining room, hearing his lamentations, went to her husband. “What obnoxious creature is this that you have brought into the world?” he said to her angrily. “He has slain two spirits, the son of Lung Wang and a steward sent by the King of Heaven. To-morrow the Dragon-king is to lodge a complaint with Yü Huang, and two or three days hence will see the end of our existence.”
The poor mother began to weep copiously. “What!” she sobbed, “you whom I suffered so much for, you are to be the cause of our ruin and death!”
No-cha, seeing his parents so distracted, fell on his knees. “Let me tell you once for all,” he said, “that I am no ordinary mortal. I am the disciple of T’ai-i Chên-jên; my magic weapons I received from him; it is they which brought upon me the undying hatred of Lung Wang. But he cannot prevail. To-day I will go and ask my master’s advice. The guilty alone should suffer the penalty; it is unjust that his parents should suffer in his stead.”