Episode 191: Vet In Court

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Today we will tell a story of a vet from the book Strange Stories from the a Chinese Studio 聊斋志异 published in 1740 during the Qing dynasty 清朝.

In the book, it says, there was a vet named Mr. Hou 侯. One day he was carrying food to his field laborers, when suddenly a whirlwind arose in his path. Mr.Hou seized a spoon and poured out a libation of gruel, whereupon the wind immediately dropped.

On another occasion, he was wandering about the municipal temple when he noticed a statue of Liu Quan 刘全 presenting the melon.




When the soul of the Emperor TaiZong of Tang 唐太宗 was in the infernal regions, it promised to sent Yanluo 阎罗, King of Hell a melon. When his Majesty recovered from the trance into which he had been plunged, he gave orders that his promise was to be fulfilled. Just then a man named Liu Quan observed a priest with a hairpin belonging to his wife and misconstruing the manner in which possession of it hand been obtained, abused his wife so severely that she committed suicide. Liu Quan himself then determined to follow her example, and convey the melon to YanLuo, King of the Hell, for which act he was subsequently deified.




Back to our story, the vet Mr. Hou saw the statue of Liu Quan in the temple in whose eye was a great splotch of dirt. “Dear me, Sir Liu!” cried Mr.Hou, “who has been ill-using you like this?” He then scraped away the dirt with his finger and passed on.

Some years afterwards, as he was lying down very ill, two guards walked in and carried him off to a court where they insisted on his bribing them heavily. Mr. Hou didn’t know what happened. At the moment, a person dressed in green robes came forth, who was greatly astonished at seeing him there and he turned to the guards to show proper respect to Mr. Hou. Leading Mr. Hou within, the person in green robe put him in his proper place and promising to inquire into the charge against him, went forward and whispered a few words to one of the clerks. “Oh”, said one of the clerks, “your case is a trifling matter. We shall merely have to confront you with a horse and then you can go home again.” Shortly afterwards, Mr. Hou’s case was called. It turned out Mr. Hou was accused by the horse of having caused its death by medicines. “My Lord,” replied Mr. Hou, “the prosecutor was attacked by the cattle-plague, for which I treated him accordingly and he actually recovered from the disease though he died on the following day. Am I to be held responsible for that?” The judge gave orders to look up the horses’s term of life in the Book of Fate. It appeared that the animal’s destiny had doomed it to death on the very day on which it had died. The judge cried out to the horse, “your term of years had already expired. Why bring this false charge? Away with you!” and turned to Mr. Hou, “you are a worthy man and may be permitted to live.”




The guards were instructed to escort him back and with them also went out the man in green robe and the clerk. “You are very kind to me but I haven’t the honor of your acquaintance.” “Three years ago I was traveling in your neighborhood and suffering very much from thirst, which you relived for me by a few spoonfuls of gruel. “And my name is Liu Quan” said the clerk, “you once took a splotch of dirt out of my eye that was troubling me very much.”




Mr. Hou wake up at home and was told by this family that he had been dead for two days. From then on he led a more virtuous life than ever and always went to the temple pouring out libations to Liu Quan.

Living healthy until the age of 80, one day he met Liu Quan riding on horseback as if about to make a long journey. Liu Quan told him, “your time is up and the warrant for your arrest is already issued. But I have ordered the constables to delay awhile, and you can now spend three days in preparing for death and at the expiration of which I will come and fetch you. I have purchased a small title for you in the realms below and you don’t have to worry.” So Mr. Hou went home and told his wife and children of his last day and made all necessary preparations. After three days, on the evening, he cried out “Liu Quan has come!” then he got into his coffin, lay down and died.



聊斋志异 Strange Stories from the a Chinese Studio


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