Monday, February 25, 2013

Chunwang & the Ninth Maiden (Han) -- Part Five

And so Chunwang, led by his wife, came before his father-in-law, the Master Immortal, a being that could be as sinister and dastardly as any entity from the lower regions.

Yet, at this moment, her father, much to her total amazement, instead of harming Chunwang on the spot, put on a great amount of charm. The two men sat together, with Chunwang in the seat of the guest of honor, drinking and eating happily with Chunwang, though, saying very little, as befits one whose father-in-law wields fearsome power.

Before concluding their dinner together, the Master Immortal turned to Chunwang and told him something. Then, he excused Chunwang from the dinner table and allowed him to go to his wife, the Ninth Maiden.

The Ninth Maiden had watched them from afar, and so when Chunwang came to her, she asked, "I know my father has probably told you to sleep somewhere this first night. Where is it to be?"

"Your father wants me to sleep in the East Bedroom."

"Oh," sighed the Ninth Maiden, "you could be in for some trouble, for in the East Bedroom, there dwells the Louse Spirit . . ."

"'Louse Spirit'?"

"Yes. It is a dangerous, loathsome creature that weighs 600 jin (i.e., 300 hundred kilograms) and feasts on human flesh. You won't see it when you lie down to sleep, but you can be sure it will come out in the middle of the night to eat you."

Chunwang gulped. "I hope you have some plan to save me!"

"Don't be afraid," she replied. "When you retire for the night, I shall give you a bowl of water, some meat, and a fine-toothed comb. When the Louse Spirit appears, say these words: 'There's water here if you're thirsty, and there's meat here if you're hungry. If you're neither thirsty nor hungry, get out! Otherwise, I also have the Ninth Maiden's comb to use upon you!'

"Trust me," the Ninth Maiden continued. "The creature will be scared to death of those words and flee like mad!"

That night in the East Bedroom, Chunwang prepared to sleep. Near him were the bowl of water, a plate of meat, and his wife's comb.

Sure enough, around the hours of sangeng (i.e., the third two-hour period of the ten hours of evening), Chunwang heard an ominous zong! zong! 

The Louse Spirit had materialized in the East Bedroom. What did it look like? Imagine a louse as big and as heavy as a water buffalo! And there it stood before Chunwang, its every movement causing the walls and floors to reverberate.
Remembering the words the Ninth Maiden had taught him, Chunwang said, "There's water here if you're thirsty, and there's meat here if you're hungry! If you're neither thirsty nor hungry, get out! Otherwise, I also have the Ninth Maiden's comb to use upon you!"

Hearing that, the Louse Spirit turned tail, emitting gas and letting loose urine in mortal fear, and fled the East Bedroom.

Early the next morning, the Master Immortal himself, carrying a shovel and a bamboo broom, opened the door to the East Bedroom, intending with great pleasure to sweep up Chunwang's remains. Imagine his surprise when he saw Chunwang sleeping soundly, not a strand of hair ruffled upon his head!

The Master Immortal gritted his teeth and decided to come up with another plan, a better one, to do away with his unwanted mortal son-in-law.

Tan Daxian, p. 62 

Note: "Emitting gas and letting loose urine" 屁滚尿流 is a Chinese expression appearing in the story, which means "to have the_____ scared out of you," or, in other words, " to be scared silly," "to be frightened out of one's mind," etc.                                                                         

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