The Love of Life

82. The Seal in the River

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Li Ch’unt’an was in charge of sending foodstuffs down the river to Tach’angkou in Huaining, Anhui. One of his subordinates, Kung K’ai, came to him and said, “I sure had a strange dream last night.”

“What did you dream about?”

“I saw this old guy with white hair and a long white beard. He was crying when he came up to me and said, ‘Help! You have to save my life! If you do, I’ll be sure to reward you some day!'”

“That sure was a strange dream.”

Their conversation was interrupted by shouting. All the soldiers in the escort were yelling excitedly and pointing to something in the water. “Look, sir,” said Kung, “It’s a seal! Have you ever seen a seal this far up the river?”

The soldiers captured the seal and dragged it right up next to the boat. Li and Kung went over to have a look at it. When the seal saw Kung, it gave him along, deep look. His heartbeat quickened. He remembered his dream.

“Sir, I’d like to buy this seal and let it go free. I think it has something to do with that dream I just told you about.”

“Okay, if you please. It’s your money.” Kung got out his wallet and was going to give the soldiers a reward for pulling the seal up to the boat.

They were all happy. All but one mean soldier called Chen 4 who insisted that he wanted to eat seal for dinner. He refused to take Kung’s money. Instead, he snatched up his spear and stabbed the seal in the head. The seal’s blood stained the water red.

“Don’t you guys know how good seal meat tastes?” Chen asked the other soldiers. “What do you want with that measly little tip? Let’s have some seal tonight!” Most of the soldiers felt sorry for that poor seal, but some of them didn’t care. They helped Chen pull the dead seal aboard, and they ate it with him.

Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to eat that seal after all, because before long, everybody who had joined Chen was sick. Chen was the worst of all. He seemed to be suffering terribly. Some of the others took care of him, until he suddenly said, in an eerie voice, “I worked for years to develop my powers. Everything was going smoothly until I had a spell of bad luck and ended up on this river. I asked Kung K’ai for help. Everybody had agreed to let me go, everybody but you. You refused to let me go, Chen 4, you refused to give me my life, you took your spear and drove it into my head and killed me! You have taken my life, and now I am going to take your life!”

The soldiers looked on in horror as Chen 4 threw back his head and died!

Some spirits develop their powers for many decades and even for many centuries. Among their other abilities, they achieve the power of transformation. Science does not recognize these abilities yet, but no matter what, there may be more to the animals around you than meets the eye!


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