Today will tell a story about a singing girl from the book XuanGuaiLu 玄怪录 from the Tang dynasty 唐朝, around the 8th century.
In the book, it says in the year 821, duke Tian Hongzheng 田弘正 was killed in a battle in the place called ZhenYang 镇阳. At that time, there was a guest called Wang Tai 王泰 in his house. Wang Tai heard about the battle and tried to head to the south. The battle was still going on, so he hide during the day and traveled at nights.
When he was in the region of XinDu 信都, which is in the HeiBei province 河北 today, a yellow dog came to follow him. After a short time, the dog asked Wang Tai, “this is a dangerous path. Why are you walking here at night?” Wang Tai silenced for a while and told the dog the truth, “there are battles in ZhenYang. ” The dog said, “now you meet me, it is your luck. My name is JieFei 捷飞. Let me serve you and you won’t need to worry.” Wang Tai thought, “if bad things are conducted in this world, there will be people blame or revenge on him. If bad things are conducted in the afterlife, there will be ghosts to revenge. I have never done anything bad, why would I be revenged or harmed. I am not even afraid of gods, why do I need to worry about this dog? If anything happens, I can get through with my righteousness.” so he agreed to let the dog to serve him.
The dog suddenly transformed into a person and bowed to him. “I am so honoured to serve you. However, I am a slow walker, please let your servant be my donkey temporarily. So I can ride the donkey to follow you.” Wang Tai and his servant were both riding horses. He was surprised of the request but still let his servant to get off the horse. That servant just walked a few steps and became a donkey. The dog person jumped on the donkey. Wang Tai was scared but he could do nothing and comforted himself that he never done anything bad.
They rode for ten miles. Suddenly on the left of the road, a huge person followed along. The person had a big head compared to his body and his eyes were red and long beard. The big head lifted his eyebrows and smiled and said to the dog person, “JieFei why are you serving a person?” The dog person said, “this is my duty.” and the dog person turned to Wang Tai, “sir don’t be scared.” The big head looked down and left. After a few miles, a person with many eyes followed them and asked, “JieFei why are you serving a person?” The dog replied the same thing. The many-eyed left.
The JieFei dog told Wang Tai, “those two creatures like to eat people. Now they left, we have nothing to worry about. There will be a house owned by Mr. Liu 刘. He is not poor and we can take a rest there.”
Not too long, they were in front of a mansion. The dog knocked at the gate. An old man in his 70s opened the door. The old man looked pretty healthy and strong. He saw the dog person and said, “wow JieFei it’s you! Why brings you here?” The dog said, “I was traveling in the place YiZhou 翼州. On my way back, I accidentally met this sir, who only traveled at night because of the battle in ZhenYang. We are really tired and hope we could stay here for a rest.” The old man said, “why not?” He bowed to Wang Tai and welcomed them into the mansion. They were offered all kinds of dishes, snacks and fruits. The horse and the donkey which was transformed from the servant also got fed with grass.
The dog said, “thank you for the food. It would be better if we have something to drink.” The old man said, “you don’t need the ask. I already asked people to prepare the wine cups.” As they were talking, a young servant came out with a well-made wine set. After a few rounds of drinking, JieFei dog said, “wine is not something to drink silently. We need some music.” The old man said, “the girls in this remote places are not good enough to treat you.” So he called a singing girl called Zhang Chongnu 张宠奴, who was a beautiful woman in her 30s. She didn’t look like she wanted to be there. When Wang Tai asked her to sing, she sang. While she refused when the old man asked.
The dog suggested, “maybe the reason ChongNu doesn’t want to sing is that she doesn’t have other people to sing along. There is a girl called Hua Yan 花眼 nearby who is good at singing. Why don’t we invite her to come?” The old man let people to invite the girl Hua Yan, who was around 17 years old. Her clothes looked a little bit old and the color faded a little. After another few rounds of drinking, the old man asked Hua Yan to sing, she sang. When he asked ChongNu to sing, she still refused. She looked aggrieved and it seemed like she wanted to complain.
Getting many times of rejection, the old man felt guilty and said, “I often invite you to sing. You never refuse. Today we have young guests, you immediately refuse me.” ChongNu stood up and said, “I was singing for Liu Kun 刘琨. (Liu Kun was a politican during the Jin dynasty 晋代, lived between the year 270 ~ 318. And this story happens in the year 871.). After Liu Kun was killed, I am singing to this old wild fox!” After the words, all the lights were gone. The whole room was in darkness. Wang Tai slowly looked out of the window and it was even brighter outside. So he crawled out of the house.
When he was out, he looked back, there was no mansion but a huge tomb. His horse was tied on a pine tree and his old servant stood at the gate. It was a full moon. Wang Tai asked his servant, “what happened to you?” The servant said, “I had a dream that I turned into a donkey and was rode by someone. Later, I ate grass with the horse.”
Wang Tai traced back the path he came, after ten miles, the sun rose. He saw a farmer in the field and asked, “do you know there is some tomb nearby?” The farmer said, “within 10 miles, there is the tomb of Zhang Chongnu, the singing Geisha of the official Liu Kun from the Jin dynasty.” Wang Tai released that was where he was last night. He rode for another few miles, and saw a skeleton with two holes on it, which looked like another pair of eyes. He thought this must be the other singing girl Hua Yan. But he didn’t find about the two creatures that eat people.