- Strange Tales of "Wild-Men" in the U.K. | Mysterious Universe
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- Tales of the Peculiar
- Atlas Obscura readers wrote in about the classic tales that taught them one thing—unease.
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In this event, there may be a slight delay in shipping and possible variation in description. Our Day return guarantee still applies. Accordingly, he got ready to start at once, and, hiring a donkey, actually set out on his way back. When he had gone about half-a-mile, the donkey turned round and ran home; and when he used his whip, the animal threw itself down on the ground.
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Chung got into a great perspiration, and his servant recommended him to remain where he was; but this he would not hear of, and hired another donkey, which served him exactly the same trick as the other one. The sun was now sinking behind the hills, and his servant advised his master to stay and finish his examination while he himself went back home before him.
Chung had no alternative but to assent, and the next day he hurried through with his papers, starting immediately afterwards, and not stopping at all on the way either to eat or to sleep. All night long he went on, and arrived to find his mother in a very critical state; however, when he gave her the pill she so far recovered that he was able to go in and see her. Grasping his hand, she begged him not to weep, telling him that she had just dreamt she had been down to the Infernal Regions, where the King of Hell had informed her with a gracious smile that her record was fairly clean, and that in view of the filial piety of her son she was to have twelve years more of life.
Chung was rejoiced at this, and his mother was soon restored to her former health.
Before long the news arrived that Chung had passed his examination; upon which he bade adieu to his mother, and went off to the capital, where he bribed the eunuchs of the palace to communicate with his friend the Taoist priest. The latter was very much pleased, and came out to see him, whereupon Chung prostrated himself at his feet. What have I done in the matter? In a former state of existence you and I were once travelling together, when you threw a stone at a dog, and accidentally killed a frog.
Now that frog has re-appeared in life as a donkey, and according to all principles of destiny you ought to suffer for what you did; but your filial piety has touched the Gods, a protecting star-influence has passed into your nativity sheet, and you will come to no harm. On the other hand, there is your wife; in her former state she was not as virtuous as she might have been, and her punishment in this life was to be widowed quite young; you, however, have secured the prolongation of your own term of years, and therefore I fear that before long your wife will pay the penalty of death.
As he went along, he came to a village on the banks of a river, where a large crowd of people was gathered together round a theatrical performance which was going on there. Chung would have passed quietly by, had not a stray donkey followed so close behind him that he turned round and hit it over the ears.
After riding about seven miles, he reached a mountain village, where he saw an old man standing at the door of a house, and, jumping off his mule, made him a low bow. The old man asked him in, and inquired his name and whence he came; to which Chung replied by telling him the whole adventure. Chung was overwhelmed with anxiety, and did not sleep a wink; and next morning he heard that the constables were after him, and that it was death to any one who should conceal him. He has not mixed much with the world of late; but when you are married, you can discuss the matter with my niece.
Tales of the Peculiar
He then told her his story, and the young lady was very angry that she should have been drawn into such a difficulty without a word of warning. Chung fell on his knees, and said he had already consulted with her uncle, who was unable himself to do anything, much as he wished it. He continued that he was aware of her power; and then, pointing out that his alliance was not altogether beneath her, made all kinds of promises if she would only help him out of this trouble.
The young lady was no longer able to refuse, but informed him that to apply to her father would entail certain disagreeable consequences, as he had retired from the world, and did not any more recognise her as his daughter. That night they did not attempt to sleep, spending the interval in padding their knees with thick felt concealed beneath their clothes; and then they got into chairs and were carried off to the hills.
After journeying some distance, they were compelled by the nature of the road to alight and walk; and it was only by a great effort that Chung succeeded at last in getting his wife to the top. The young lady did not venture to select a favourable spot; she fell on her knees at once, and Chung did likewise behind her. I am now married, and I have brought my husband to see you.
Bury it reverently, that the wrong done to the tree may be somewhat atoned for. Pai was a native of Chi-li, and his eldest son was called Chia. The latter had been some two years holding an appointment  as magistrate in the south; but because of the great distance between them, his family had heard nothing of him. One day a distant connection, named Ting, called at the house; and Mr.
Pai, not having seen this gentleman for a long time, treated him with much cordiality. Now Ting was one of those persons who are occasionally employed by the Judge of the Infernal Regions to make arrests on earth;  and, as they were chatting together, Mr.
Pai questioned him about the realms below. Ting told him all kinds of strange things, but Pai did not believe them, answering only by a smile.
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Some days afterwards, he had just lain down to sleep when Ting walked in and asked him to go for a stroll; so they went off together, and by-and-by reached the city. The latter assenting, they walked along till they came to a large building, which Ting said was the place. However, there was a fierce wolf at the entrance,  and Mr. Pai was afraid to go in.
The central pathway was piled up with whitening bones, and Mr. Pai began to feel horribly alarmed but Ting kept close to him all the time, and at length they got safely in. Thereupon a great big wolf brought in in his mouth the carcase of a dead man, and set it before them, at which Mr.
Pai rose up in consternation, and asked his son what this meant. Just as he was at a loss what to do, there was a general stampede among the animals which scurried away, some under the couches and some under the tables and chairs; and while he was wondering what the cause of this could be, in marched two knights in golden armour, who looked sternly at Chia, and, producing a black rope, proceeded to bind him hand and foot.
Let us now only take out its teeth. Pai—who woke up with a start. He found he had been dreaming, and at once sent off to invite Ting to come and see him; but Ting sent back to say he must beg to be excused. Then Mr. Pai, pondering on what he had seen in his dream, despatched his second son with a letter to Chia, full of warnings and good advice; and lo! The latter changed colour, but immediately asked his brother what there was to be astonished at in the coincidence of a dream. We are promoted or degraded at the will of our superiors, and not by the voice of the people.
He, therefore, who gratifies his superiors is marked out for success;  whereas he who consults the wishes of the people is unable to gratify his superiors as well. The old man was much affected, but there was nothing that he could do in the matter, so he devoted himself to assisting the poor, and such acts of charity, daily praying the Gods that the wicked son alone might suffer for his crimes, and not entail misery on his innocent wife and children.
But the old man sighed and took to his bed, pretending he was too unwell to receive visitors. Before long another message came, informing them that Chia had fallen in with bandits while on his way home, and that he and all his retinue had been killed. But Chia was not yet dead. They then divided the booty between them, and made off with all speed. One of his servants replied that he had been a magistrate at such and such a place, and that his name was Pai.
It is hard that his father should live to see such sorrow as this. Put his head on again. Carrying him home, they poured some nourishment down his throat, which he was able to swallow; but there he was at an out-of-the-way place, without the means of continuing his journey. It was some six months before his father heard the real state of the case, and then he sent off the second son to bring his brother home. Chia had indeed come to life again, but he was able to see down his own back, and was regarded ever afterwards more as a monstrosity than as a man.
Subsequently the nephew, whom old Mr. Pai had seen sitting in state surrounded by officials, actually became an Imperial Censor, so that every detail of the dream was thus strangely realised. Chu was a native of Yang-ku, and, as a young man, was much given to playing tricks and talking in a loose kind of way. Now about a month afterwards, the said husband, who had gone out to collect some money due to him, was actually killed in a lonely spot; and the magistrate of the district immediately summoned the neighbours and beadle  and held the usual inquest, but was unable to find any clue to the murderer.
However, the old woman told the story of her conversation with Chu, and suspicion at once fell upon him. The constables came and arrested him; but he stoutly denied the charge; and the magistrate now began to suspect the wife of the murdered man. Accordingly, she was severely beaten and tortured in several ways until her strength failed her, and she falsely acknowledged her guilt.