The Love of Life

43. Poison Wang Lost His Tongue


Wang was his name, Poison was his nickname. He lived in Henglin outside Ch’angchou, Chiangsu. Near Henglin were several acres of reeds. A lot of sparrows lived there. Poison Wang raised a vicious eagle, and trained it very carefully. When he was ready, he made a very big net. He took it to the reed patch. He loosed his eagle, which flew back and forth above the reeds. When the sparrows saw their natural enemy, they flew back and forth in panic, and a lot of them blundered into Poison’s net. Of course you can’t keep a trapped sparrow long. It will commit suicide by biting off its own tongue rather than live in a cage. But Poison Wang didn’t want to raise them in a cage. He crushed their heads with a big rock. Then he took their bodies to the market to sell as meat. This is how he made his living. He was very proud of this trick.

But why was his nickname Poison? Because he was vicious and cruel. He always wanted to have his own way. He never listened to reason. If anybody accidentally touched his sparrow net, Poison Wang would curse him with all the terrible, nasty names and words he could think of. He would keep cursing that person all day long. So everybody around knew him, and they detested him, too.

He finally came down with some strange disease that the doctors had never seen. His whole body ached. He rolled this way and that on his bed. He groaned and moaned and begged the doctors to help, but they couldn’t figure out how to cure him. His high-handed old bullying ways were gone. His face was pinched from pain. Whenever anyone came, he whimpered and whined, saying, “Have mercy on me! Help me, please!” But nobody knew what to to. His neighbors said he looked and sounded just like a trapped sparrow begging for its life.

After several days, Poison Wang was in such agony that he chewed off his own tongue and died. He died a horrible death because he had lived a horrible life.

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