Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic – Chapter 4


Monday, August 2, 2010

Copyright © 2010 – Jeff Loh. All rights reserved  
 
 
Old Lady Shi Pleads To Save Her Lonely Son,
The Beauty of Ren Uses Her Magical Skills.
 
When old Mrs. Shi entered the inner hall, Mr. and Mrs. Ren rose to greet her. They sat down together and were attended to by servant girls. After tidying her clothes, Mrs. Shi quickly knelt down on both knees and begged,
 
“Please Lord and Mistress, you must save my little one. My debt to you will be boundless!”

Right then, Mr. and Mrs. Ren quickly helped Old Mrs. Shi to her feet and explained,

“Old sister-in-law, did you not see the storm? It is but a stab in the dark by our daughter. .

Old Mrs. Shi argued,

“Lord and Mistress, if this is only a rambling of your daughter, how it can be so deadly accurate? I beg you to beckon the young miss out quickly. Any further delay and my son will be in danger.”

Tears flowed as she finished speaking.

With no other choice, Ren Tai Kung ordered a servant girl to bring his daughter out from her room. The moment Mrs. Shi espied her she exclaimed,

“Young miss, please have pity and save my son!”

When she was about to kneel down again Mrs. Ren stopped her, admonishing her gently,

“How can you be like this?”

And then to her daughter she said,

“My daughter, if you are capable of saving his life, please do so.”

After seeing her parents and Mrs. Shi to their seats, Peach Blossom began her instructions,

“Indeed there is a way to save him but you must never ever speak of my name to the outside world. If Lord Chou gets wind of it, he will never forgive me. In enmity he will come after me. Instead of returning kindness, would you, madame, bring evil to me?”

Old Mrs. Shi heard the words and swore gravely,

“Young Miss, please be assured! How could this old bag be an ingrate? Your name will never come out from my lips!”

Peach Blossom replied,

“Alright then, madame, please listen carefully to this lowly girl: According to the Eight Trigrams your son will die as predicted. However I do possess a certain magic skill of the immortals that will destroy the outcome of the condemned and break his Eight Trigram Prediction. Believe not in my power! Your son will surely die.”

Old Mrs. Shi bursts into joy with great hope,

“Young Miss, what is it? Please explain to this old bag so that I can quickly arrange for the needed things.”

Peach Blossom continued,

“No special preparation is needed but you must buy one Lord of Earth1 paper horse and another of the Lord of Fire. Put them together in a room and light two candles. Under a table, place a bowl of clean water and a live chicken. Fasten a winnowing sieve2 under which a lighted oil lamp is placed. This lamp is known as the Lamp of Increased Longevity. Its light must not be allowed to extinguish. If it does, so will your son’s life! Place a mirror on top of a folded piece of his clothing. With an old shoe of his in hand, sit in the room and wait. The rain will come and go during the night and the sky will be cleared when it stops. Fill the bowl with water, walk to the main entrance and use the old shoe to beat on the door. With each beat, call out your son’s name and beckon him to come home. Repeat the process at each beat of the watch until the third watch has passed. You may then, my elder, sleep at ease, knowing that your son’s safety is guaranteed and you will see him next morning.”

This really is,

A beauty’s magical skill knownst only by her,
This secret transmission from Heaven.

After listening to Peach Blossom’s instructions, old Mrs. Shi hurried home after bidding Mr. and Mrs. Ren farewell as the wind and rain continued unabatedly. With such detailed instructions, they were not sure if they could believe what their daughter had instructed. Together they prodded her,

“Our precious daughter, a person’s life and death had been determined by heaven’s will. That Shi Tsung Fu is going to be crushed to death in the cave dwelling somewhere south of the city. Why instruct the mother to cry half the night and that by next morning mother and son will be reunited? We can’t really believe in this mumbo jumbo.”

Afraid that heaven’s secrets would leak out in answering her parents, she merely replied,

“At this time, it is not convenient to say anything more. When the time comes, everything will be clear to you all.”

Mr. and Mrs. Ren did not pester their daughter any further after her caution. The young miss excused herself and entered the peach garden to rest.

Let’s talk about Shi Tsung Fu. He left home on the ninth month and had planned to return in three months’ time but then who knew that he would hook up with another vendor and travel together to Meng Jin? He decided to go sightseeing when he made a three-fold profit from his few pieces of silver. Two months later, he was homesick and thought about his worried mother. After gathering his belongings, he parted with his partner. He travelled day and night as he headed home to Morning Song as quickly as possible. Hunger and thirst were his companions, with the moon and stars as his roof. He wished he could run all the way back so that he could see his mother sooner.

After a few days, it was already the fifteenth of the third month. He was leaving the inn and he calculated the distance to Morning Song – still about a hundred and fifty six miles away. He thought to himself,

“I think it’s better to enter the city by today.”

He made up his mind and quickened his steps. He was in no mood to enjoy any scenic beauty. As the hour of Shen approached, dark clouds gathered swiftly and suddenly. Shi Tsung Fu agonized in his thoughts,

“With this rain, it is still about ten or twenty miles away, how can I hurry myself into the city?”

The more he thought, the more anxious he became and the slower his pace became. After travelling frantically for a few miles, he was profusely covered in sweat. Gusts of gale winds hit him from time to time and bursts of heavy rain pelted him. Cold and soaked to the core, he tumbled. Ren Shi Tsung knew that there were no inns ahead or he had not seen any dwelling where he had passed. Nary a place he could use for shelter. Even with the straw raincoat he had on, he was not completely protected from such hostile elements. He had no choice but to brave forward and walk as fast as he could. Each step forward was a step in difficulty. He struggled and hoped for some temporary refuge nearby. Finally he espied an abandoned cave dwelling ahead. Though damaged beyond repair, it was nevertheless a haven from the elements. He entered, put down his luggage and began wringing out his wet clothes. There was nothing on which he could hang his wet clothes so he decided to leave them on. He sat down and sighed,

“How hateful this rain is! The more anxious I am, the later I am able to enter the city. Heaven does not convenience anyone.”

Night was falling and the rain continued. Realizing that entering the city that day would not be possible, he decided to spend the night in the cave dwelling. He rationalized to himself,

“Do I really have to enter the city by today? Does it really matter? So many days have passed. Surely I can tarry for one more night.”

After much deliberation, he felt better and was more at ease. Finally with his back against the wall, he closed and rested his eyes. We shall talk more about him later.

Returning to old Mrs. Shi. She was half in belief and half in doubt with Peach Blossom’s words. Still she braved the rain and bought two paper horses of the Star Gods before heading home. A live chicken was brought into the room. Not long afterwards, the rain seemed to be abating gradually. She felt more at ease as the words of Peach Blossom rang true. After fifteen minutes or so, the sky cleared up and she was excited,

“This Miss Peach Blossom is truly a goddess! Her words must not be taken lightly. I guess it’s time for me to cry for my son!”

Her wails were loud and the more she cried, the sight of her became more pitiful. What a great crier she was! She stopped crying when the first watch struck. With an old shoe of Shi Ren Tsung in hand, she walked to the front door and began to beat on it with the old shoe, shouting away,

“Shi Tsung Fu, my son, come home quickly. I’m longing for your return in great anticipation! Think of your parents. A child, you should not travel so far away and make me wait for you at the door. Please hurry back!”

When this story was written, a song came into vogue. Let me recite it for you. The words are:

First watch comes,
Moon is low,
A widow’s room, sob sobbing heard.
Call, calling my son Shi Tsung Fu:
My son, my heart, my liver3 and more!
Where now art thou?
For commerce ye say thou must go,
Cutting from a beloved4, thou hast left me.
Mother’s here,
Pinching my fingers, longing for my son.
Twelfth month past, still not here.
Already it’s the third day of the third month,
Call thy mother now,
So urgent it is to her!

Second watch comes,
Moon is high,
A widow’s room, wail wailing all there is,
Call, calling my son Shi Tsung Fu:
My son, why dost care not for thy life?
With so many other ways to die,
In a desolate cave ye shall not!
Of what crime thou hadst committed?
Destined in throwing a life far from home5.
When Lord Chou divined thy life,
My heart resisted pain from a thousand knives.
A mistake ye wouldst make,
Abandoning thy mother with no branch to rely!

Third watch comes,
Moon in the center,
A widow’s room, pain paining galore,
Call, calling my son Shi Tsung Fu:
Know not thou hast provoked the stars of calamity?
From Miss Ren’s magical methods I use,
Not knowing if they wouldst work!
Alive if ye return to me,
Mile high silver candles I burn to thank ye gods!

Old Mrs. Shi followed Peach Blossom’s instructions of one wailing followed by one chant. Only until the fourth watch had come and gone did she stop and go to sleep. Now leaving Mrs. Shi’s sleep aside, we return to Shi Tsung Fu. The sky had cleared in about an hours’ time. He was bored sitting in the dwelling and reflected on how he hurried home since the fifth watch of the previous night till the night’s hour of Shen. He was dead tired and was soon asleep with his back against the wall. His snores began to rival those of thunder, drifting into the arms of sweet dreams…

Wall collapsing tonight, that’s the danger. How his fate awaits, please continue to the next chapter.

NOTES:

Once when walking in Singapore’s Chinatown in the 1960’s with my maternal grandmother, I was amazed and alarmed on seeing a mad woman in bereavement. She was crying and shouting out something unintelligible while beating with a shoe on a door. My grandmother explained that the woman is from the Samsui (三水) area in Canton (no wonder I did not understand what she was saying, it’s a slightly different Cantonese dialect) using this method to ensure the safe return of their loved ones. Of course in those days mass communication is almost non-existent or too expensive for ordinary families to use.
 
Samsui women dressed in the characteristic red headgear and blue samfu (tunic & trousers)
 
 
1. The Five Virtuous Star Lords (五德星君).These gods preside over a direction and element, influencing the lives of men in fortunes good or bad, meting out rewards and punishments.

Direction Element   Name

East          Wood     重華
South        Fire         熒惑
West         Metal      太白
North        Water     司晨
Center       Earth      日侯

 
2. Winnowing Sieves
 
 
3. . Chinese equivalent of “my honey”, “my darling” etc.
 
4. . Chinese believe that in previous lives, nemesis becomes one’s spouse and debtors become one’s children.
 
5. Chinese would rather be buried in their hometown. Ideally the body should be brought back otherwise the ghost will be wandering in eternity without peace.
 
ORIGINAL TEXT
 

桃花女陰陽鬥傳/第四回

石婆子求救孤兒
任佳人教施異術

當時石婆子進至中堂,任太公夫妻立起位迎接他,一同坐下。又有使女們接過。石婆子即整整衣,忙忙雙膝跪下,道:“員外,安人,必須救救妾身的小兒,感恩無涯也!”當下,任太公夫妻連忙扶超了石婆子,又道:“老嫂,你見天下大雨麼?此不過是女兒誤打誤撞之言,且請起來。”石婆子起了,即道:“員外,安人,你們小姐若是亂言妄語,真正的有此應準耶?今求你二老快請小姐出來,再若遲延,只怕不能救了。”說完,又吊下淚來。

任太公無奈,只得叫喚使女,把桃花小姐請了出來。石婆子一見,便道:“小姐可憐,救我兒一命!”說罷,又跪將下去。任太太上前扶起,即道:“如何使得?”隨又對桃花女道:“我兒,你果有人力救得他時,就救他一救。”桃花小姐便讓爹娘與石婆子一齊坐下,道:“救是有到有一法必救得,只是不可在外面說出奴的名字來,切不可說我救你的兒子,叫周國公知道。倘若他知道了,豈肯與奴千休?一定來找奴,只恐兩下里結成冤仇,豈不是大娘你恩將仇報了?”石婆子聞言,道:“小姐放心!老身豈是忘恩之人?斷不敢說出小姐的名字來。”桃花女道:“既然如此,大娘你聽奴說:按著八卦推算,你令郎定死無生,奴卻也有一種仙法,能起死回生,破他的八卦。若不信法力,萬萬救不得他了!”石婆子聞言大喜道:“小姐你如何作用的?快快對老身說明,好去行事。”

桃花小姐道:“也不用別的,必須去買一張土地星君的紙馬。一張火德基君的紙馬來,供在房內,點臘燭二枝,放在房中。只要擺一碗淨水與一個雞子,放桌子底下;要反扣一個篩箕,底下要添點一盞燈,名日添壽燈,千萬不可吹滅。倘若吹滅了,你令郎就無救了。只看今夜風雨仍作仍止。倘止了,那天依然清朗,到時候可尋了一隻舊鞋,一件舊衣折裡,用一面鏡子壓在上面,放水碗中,旁邊又要你手拿著舊鞋坐在房中,必要走出大門外,把鞋打著門域,打一下,叫一句你令郎名字回來。一個更鼓叫一遍,若叫過三更,你老人家只管放心去睡。明日清晨,保你令郎回家,母子相見了。”正是:

佳人妙法無人曉,
賴得先天得秘傳。

當日石婆子一一領命,便忙忙辭別任太公夫妻,回家而去。此時風雨未止,只有任太公夫妻見女兒說出無數的方法來,心中仍是不大准信。便一同動問道:“嬌兒,人之生死,乃是上天注定之先。那石宗輔既然今夜三更命盡在城南破窯中,你怎麼又叫他母親哭半夜,明早就能回來,使他母子見面?這些話,我們不准信。”小姐見父母問他,又不敢預先言說,恐洩漏天機,即推說道:“此刻未便言明。再待來日告訴爹娘知之。”任太公兩老見女兒如此說,也不再問。小姐辭別父母,自回桃園安歇去了。

再說石宗輔自從去年九月出門之時,原說三個月回家,豈知在外合上一個販布的伙計,往孟津去販布,所向風月,歸期錯過。惟數兩本資,幸喜得利息三倍。到了二月盡頭,思想回家,心知母親懸望,便辭了夥伴,收拾起行囊,又星夜往朝歌大路而來。一路飢餐渴飲,戴月披星,恨不能一步的奔走回到家中,母子見面。走了數日,那日正是三月十五日,石宗輔出了旅店,在路上算一算走的路程,離朝歌不過還有一百五六十里。心中想道:“我今日要趕進城去方妙。”一面低頭想著,一面放開大步急走,一路上也無心張盼景物。剛剛走到申時候,忽然烏云四起。石宗輔暗叫苦道:“雨即來了,尚爭這幾十里,何能趕得進城?”不由得心中麻亂起來,越想越急,越是走得慢。急急跑了幾里,渾身是汗。一陣狂風打麵而來,一時間驟雨如電,傾盆的一般倒將下來。石宗輔知前無村店,後無人家,是個無處躲雨的地方。雖然有雨具遮蓋,無奈風狂雨大,不能遍身遮護,只得冒雨往前急走,真是步陟艱難,一面走來,一面用目四下觀看,想尋一躲雨之所,暫且避一避。只見前面一所破窯,雖破損不堪,還可將就避雨,便把行李放下,脫去雨濕衣服,擰了一擰,下了水,因無處晾,只得仍放在身上,坐下地來,不由得嘆氣連聲道:“可恨如此,我心裡越急,誰知越趕不上。真是天雨不就人。”又看看天色昏暗,雨仍下不止,眼見得今日是不能趕進城去了,也只得在此破窯中,孤孤栖栖坐他一夜,等天明進城罷。自己寬解自己:“就難道一定要今日進城?況許久的日子都過了,偏偏的過不得這一夜?”想來想去,心中覺得安寧起來,便將身靠在壁兒,合著眼兒養養精神。按下慢提。

再說石婆子聽了桃花女之言,心中半信半疑,冒著雨自去買了兩張星君的紙馬,回至家中。現有生雞,取過一隻。看看天色昏黑,不久雨就漸漸晴了,心中又有幾分安心,見桃花女的說話有驗,“自然我孩兒有望了!”又一刻,果然天色睛明了,便暗暗一驚,駭道:“桃花小姐真神人也!不可小看於他。今料這個時侯,是我哭子之時候矣!”即便掩面大哭起來,越哭越傷心,真個大哭呼喊。直至初更,方才住口。又拿了石宗輔的鞋子,走到大門外,在中央就是一下。連連之聲,呼叫一句:“石宗輔,我的孩兒!你快快回來,我望切你得緊也!想來父母在,為人子者不當遠遊,以免我倚門之望。切切也!”

當日做書的人做到此處,有隻曲兒做來,念與你們眾位聽聽罷。其曲歌寫上雲:

一更裡,
月兒低,
寡婦房中哭啼啼。
叫、叫聲孩兒石宗輔:
兒呀心肝!你在那裡?
只說叫你做買賣,
割捨冤家把我離。
娘這裡,
掐著指頭將兒來盼,
誰知兒去臘月盡你不回歸!
如今是,
三月三,
好叫你娘呵,
甚是著急!

二更裡,
月兒高,
寡婦房中哭嚎啕。
叫聲孩兒石宗輔:
兒命因何不保好?
別的死法還猶可,
決不該死荒郊破瓦窯!
你身造了什麼罪?
造定離鄉在外拋。
自從周公算了你,
我心好似攘千刀。
你今有個差池處,
撇下娘半邊人兒沒下梢!

三更裡,
月正中,
寡婦房中放悲痛。
叫聲我兒石宗輔,
不知因何惹災星?
如今依了任小姐的法兒來擺佈,
但不知方法兒靈不靈!
果然兒命若得回家轉,
娘便高燒銀燭謝神恩!

石婆子依著桃花女教法的言詞,哭一會,叫一句。一直哭到四更時分,石婆子住了哭,住了呼叫,回進內堂,打算安枕。又且暫捺一邊。再說石宗輔獨自一人,於一更時刻,見天雨又漸漸晴了,在破窯實在寂寂無聊,且自急趕路途,自五更天跑到申刻,雨又過大,今靠在破窯壁,正要合眼,倦了,一刻睡去,呼呼鼻息如雷,悠悠入夢的酣睡。

今夜危牆將塌,不知他的性命如何,且看下回分解。

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