The Three Evils
(A Chinese Folktale re-written by BoSt)
Once upon a time, there lived an eccentric young man by the name of Dschou Tschu. He wore a high hat on his head adorned with two pheasants’ wings; his garments were woven of embroidered silk, and at his side hung the Dragon-spring sword. Orphaned at an early age, he had a wild and mischievous nature which became far worse when he was inebriated. He always intruded into other's business and any ongoing disputes; meanwhile, wherever he went his pranks and tomfoolery, as well, his inclination to forcefully take that which belonged to others, beget or fostered quarrels and brawls. He was hence, furtively detested throughout the neighborhood and whoever offended him had good reason to dread the ensued terrible consequences. As he was blessed with an extraordinary super-human strength however, the law enforcement officers and the village elders dared not rebuke (reprimand, admonish) or punish him seriously. And so, he’d persisted with his unruly ways for many a year.
Eventually a new Official was posted to that district; before the new magistrate formally took up office however, surreptitiously (covertly and under disguise) he first went about the countryside and listened to the citizen’s complaints. They in unison told him that there were three great evils in that district.
The magistrate still under disguise, decided to in person call on Dschou Tschu.
Late that night when most decent folks were fast asleep, the inebriated Dschou Tschu returned from the tavern, along the way slapping his sword and singing in a loud voice.
When he reached his house he noted the man with his head down seated by the door and asked: “Who are you; why are you weeping here so pitifully?”
The magistrate raised his head and glaring at Dschou, replied: “I am weeping because of the people’s distress.”
Dschou Tschu grimaced then threw his head back and guffawed.
“You are mistaken, my friend,” said he. “Revolt is seething round about us like boiling water in a kettle. But here, in our little corner of the land, all is quiet and peaceful. The harvest has been abundant, corn is plentiful, and all go happily about their work. When you talk to me about distress I have to think of the man who groans without being sick. And who are you, tell me that, which instead of grieving for yourself, are grieving for others? And what are you doing loitering at my door in this ungodly hour?”
“I am the new Magistrate,” replied the other. “Since I left my litter I have been looking about in the neighborhood. I find the people are honest and simple in their way of life, and everyone has sufficient to wear and to eat. This is all just as you state. Yet, strange to say, when the elders come together, they always sigh and complain. And if they are asked why, they answer: ‘There are three great evils in our district!’ I have come to ask you to do away with two of them, as to the third... perhaps I had better remain silent. And this is the reason I weep before your door.”
“Well, what are these evils?” enquired Dschou Tschu. “Speak freely, and tell me openly all that you know!”
“The first evil,” said the Magistrate “is the evil dragon at the long bridge, which causes the water to rise so that man and beast are drowned in the river. The second evil is the tiger with the white forehead, which dwells in the hills. And the third evil, Dschou Tschu—is you!”
The crimson hue, the blush of shame swiftly infused the young man’s cheeks, and he bowed and said: “You have come here from afar to be the Magistrate of this district, and yet you feel such sympathy for the people? I was born in this place and yet I have only made our elders grieve. What sort of a creature must I be? I beg that you return to your residence; fear not, I will see to it that matters improve!”
Dschou Tschu at once took off and ran all the way without stopping till he reached the hills. There he hunted the tiger out of his cave. The latter leaped into the air so that the whole forest was shaken as though by a storm. Next he came rushing up, roaring, and stretching out his claws savagely to seize his pray. Dschou nimbly stepped back a pace, and the tiger landed on the ground directly in front of him. Then he thrust the tiger’s neck to the ground with his left hand, and beat him without stopping with his right, until he lay dead on the earth. Dschou loaded the tiger on his back and went straight home.
Dschou Tschu subsequently went to the long bridge. He undressed, took his sword in his hand, and thus dived into the icy water. No sooner had he disappeared, than there was a boiling and hissing, and the waves began to foam and billow. It sounded like the mad beating of thousands of hoofs. After a time a stream of blood shot up from the depths, and the water of the river turned red. Eventually triumphant Dschou, holding the dragon’s decapitated head in his hand, rose out of the waves.
He went to the Magistrate and reported, with a bow: “I have cut off the dragon’s head, and have also done away with the tiger. Thus I have happily accomplished your two commands. And now I shall wander away so that you may be rid of the third evil as well. My Lord, please keep watch over my countrymen and, relay to the elders that they need sorrow no more!”
When he had said this he enlisted as a soldier. In combat against the robbers he gained a great reputation and once, when the latter were pressing him hard, and he saw that he could not save himself, he bowed to the East and said: “The day has come at last when I can atone for my sin with my life!” Then he offered his neck to the sword and died.
Posted by Bo Caunce
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