Tu Tze-Chun story 2


Tu Tze-Chun story 2

Grateful Crane

Part 4
Before long they flew down on a large slab of rock in the mountain.
It was so high they could see the Big Dipper twinkling near above them.
The only things they could hear were the sounds of the wind which hit against pine trees on the precipice.

The old man told Tu Tze-Chun to sit on the rock and said,

“I have to go and see Dryad.
You must keep sitting here and wait for me.
While I’m away, many evil spirits will appear to deceive you.
Whatever happens, you must keep your mouth shut.
If you accidentally let out a sound, your dream to be a mountain hermit won’t come true.
Even if heaven and earth should change places, you must keep silent.”

“I understand. Even if my life was taken, I won’t say a word.”

“I’m relieved to hear that. Well, I guess I should be going.”

The old man climbed onto the bamboo stick again.
He flew straight up in the night sky and soon disappeared out of sight.

Sitting on the rock alone, he looked up at the stars.
About an hour later, he heard a voice in the air,

“Hey, there! Who are you sitting over there?”

As he had been told by his master, he kept his mouth shut.
Then he heard the same voice threatening him.
“Answer me, or you are dead!”

He wouldn’t answer it yet, of course.
Just then a big tiger suddenly jumped down on the rock and roared at him.
At the same time, a long white snake, putting its tongue in and out, crept down the cliff.

He kept sitting calmly without changing his face.

The tiger and the snake jumped at their prey at the same time, when he thought he would be killed, they disappeared in a flash.
He was anxious about what would happen to him next.

Then a gust of wind blew by and black clouds soon covered all over the sky.

Lightning flashed across the dark sky, dreadful thunders rumbled over him and it began to pour on him like a waterfall.

A red thunderbolt from the dark clouds dropped on him.
He closed his eyes and threw himself on the rock.

When he opened his eyes, it let up and the Big Dipper started twinkling again over the mountain.
He was relieved and wiped the cold sweat on the forehead.

Suddenly a tall God general in a suit of gold armor appeared in front of him.

Pointing a halberd at his chest, the God general said with dignity,

“Hey, who are you? I’ve lived in this mountain for a long time.
Answer me quickly, or you are dead!”

He kept quiet as the old man had told him.

“You don’t want to answer me, do you? If you don’t, I’ll stab you to death.”
He still kept silent.

“If you don’t answer me, I’ll kill you as I said.”

Saying so, the God general stabbed him in the chest, which finally made him dead.

Part 5
Though his body lay down on the rock, his soul slipped out and went down to Hell.

Soon he reached the gate of a splendid palace.
He was taken by the guards to the Great King Yama dressed in black with a gold crown on his head.

Yama asked him,

“Why were you sitting on the rock in the mountain?”

He remembered the old man’s words; whatever happens you must keep your mouth shut.

“Where do you think you are now?
If you don’t answer me immediately, you have to go through the torments of Hell!”

Looking at Tu Tze-Chun shutting his mouth firmly, Yama ordered his men to take him to the hill of swords, the bloody pond, the burning spa and the icy sea so that he would go through various kinds of sufferings.
His chest was stabbed with swords; his face was burned with fire;
his tongue was pulled out;
his skin was stripped off;
his body was boiled in hot oil;
his brains were sucked by the venomous snakes;
his eyes were eaten out by the hawk eagles and so on.

Nevertheless, he never uttered a word.

The men brought him back to Yama and said,

“This man won’t say a word no matter what we do to him.”

Yama knitted his eyebrows for a while and ordered one of his men,

“This man’s parents are in Beast Hell.
Bring them immediately over here.”

Soon two beasts were brought before the Great King Yama.
Tu Tze-Chun couldn’t believe his eyes.
Though their bodies were changed into thin horses, their faces were exactly that of his father’s and mother’s.

Yama said to him,

“If you don’t confess the reason you were sitting on the rock in the mountain, we’ll put them to torture instead of you.”

But yet he still didn’t say anything.

“What a bad son you are!
You think it’ll have nothing to do with you even if your parents will suffer from torture of Hell, don’t you?”

The Great King ordered his men loudly,

“Beat these two beasts until their meats and bones are smashed!”

“Yes, sir!” they answered in chorus and began to beat them with iron whips without mercy.

The two horses, indeed his parents, suffering the agony of beating, shed tears of blood and neighed weakly.

“Don’t you intend to confess it yet?”

Yama raised his hand to stop his men from beating the horses and asked him again,

“You don’t intend to confess it yet, do you?”

What a terrible sight!
His parents were falling down out of breath.
Their meats were torn and bones were broken.

Remembering his master’s words, he closed his eyes desperately, when he heard a faint whisper,

“Don’t worry! No matter what may happen to us, we feel nothing better if you are happy.
If you don’t want to answer the Great King, you may keep silent.”

It was surely his mother’s familiar voice.
He felt a lump in his throat.
He unconsciously opened his eyes and saw his mother, a lying horse before him looking at him sorrowfully.

“Even when my mother is in agonies of pain, she is thinking of me.
People flattered me when I was rich, but never spoke a word to me when poor.
Compared to those people, gasping for breath, she is showing me a warm maternal affection.”

He ran up to his mother, held her by her neck, shedding tears and cried,


Part 6
As soon as he cried, he was back in the capital in the evening sun, leaning against the wall of the west gate absentmindedly.
The mist, the white crescent moon, the congesting street with people and carriage…everything was the same as it had been.

“What do you think?
Even if you kept being my pupil, you would never be a mountain hermit.”

The old man with a cross-eye said to him with a smile.

“No, I wouldn’t. But I am happy as I am, rather than being a mountain hermit.”

He held the old man’s hand with tears in his eyes.

“When I saw my parents beaten hard with the whips in Hell, I couldn’t keep silent.”

“If you had kept silent, I would…”

The old man solemnly stared at him,
“If you had kept silent, I would have killed you.
I’m sure you don’t wish to be a mountain hermit any more, and you should be fed up being rich.
Well then, what are you going to be from now on?”

“Whatever I will be, I am going to live an honest life as a human being.”

He looked much more cheerful than before.

“Don’t forget what you said. From now on, I’ll never see you again.”

The old man started walking away, but suddenly stopped to look back at him and added happily,

“Oh, an idea flashed into my mind.

Luckily I have a house with a field at the foot of the mountain.
I’ll give it to you.
Go and live there for the time being.
This time of the year, you’ll see peach blossoms around it.”

The end