The Love of Life

84. Bands of Red


The great Confucian scholar Chi Hsiaolan (1724-1805) recorded this story.

A magnificent boat reached the shore. The people there were surprised to see at a window a middle-aged lady, dressed in the splendid attire of a member of an official household, crying her eyes out.

One of them whispered, “Isn’t that the lady of His Honor?”

“Yes it is, but what could possibly happen to make someone in such an exalted position so sad?”

Her servants on the boat were trying to figure out the same thing.

Finally, her old wet nurse got the story out of her. Her Ladyship had dreamed that her little daughter, who had died so young, had been tied up with red bands and was going to be killed. She cried to her mother to save her. It was so sad that Her Ladyship woke up with a start.

But the dream didn’t seem to end there. She was awake, but she thought she could still hear her poor little daughter crying. The sound seemed to be coming from that boat over there.

The wet nurse went over to investigate. When she reached the other boat, the first thing she saw was a pool of blood!

A butcher was slaughtering a piglet there. The piglet screeched. When the wet nurse came on board, it struggled and twisted. It was a horrible sight. Its feet were tied with red bands, just like in Her Ladyship’s dream!

It was too late to save that piglet, but Her Ladyship bought it anyway, and gave it a decent burial on the shore.

When it was all over, there was a lot of talk about this weird event.

It seems that His Honor’s daughter had been sweet and intelligent. She had no bad habits to speak of, but she did love chicken. She couldn’t eat a meal without at least one plate of chicken. In one year, at least seven or eight hundred chickens would meet their deaths in order to satisfy her appetite. By the time of her unfortunate death at the tender age of 16, she was responsible for the deaths of thousands of chickens.

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