Main : Chinese
Dealbreaking; or, The Nature of Deceit
According to Liu Youhan the Attendant Censor, he once lived in
a friend's house in Shandong, and heard that the girl next door
was seduced by a fox. The girl's father followed the fox and discovered
its cave. Using every method conceivable he caught a baby fox, and
proposed a deal with the fox, saying, "I will release your
son so long as you release my daughter."
The fox agreed. However, after the baby fox was released, the fox
returned. When he was scolded for not keeping his word, he retorted,
"Frequent is the deceit that men practise on each other. Why
do you only condemn creatures of my type?"
Extremely bitter and rancorous, the father forced his daughter
to make a pretense of entreating the fox to drink, while he secretly
put arsenic in the fox's drink. Thus poisoned, the fox became transformed
and fled in panic. The following night bricks and shingles were
thrown at the house. Winidows and doors were shaken. A horde of
foxes, raising a hue and cry, had come to demand human lives as
The father, in a stern voice, recounted the incident [to Liu] from
beginning to end. He reported what an old fox seemed to have said
[to the horde of foxes]:
"Sad indeed it is that you folks only see men deceiving each
other, and choose to follow their example. You do not know of the
way of Heaven and the inevitability of retribution. Those skilled
at deception will eventually be deceived themselves. The master
speaks boldly, and to harm him would bring evil fortune. Let the
whole gang come back with me."
When this was said, all was quiet again. This old fox was far superior
in his insight.
This 18th-century story appears in Ji Yun's Random Jottings
at the Cottage of Close Scrutiny.
Translation: Leo Tak-hung Chan, The Discourse on Foxes and Ghosts:
Ji Yun and Eighteenth-Century Literati Storytelling. Honolulu:
University of Hawai-i Press, 1998. P. 194.