20
Feb
11

Portraits of Thirty-three Swordsmen – 31 Xia wife

No. 31 Xia wife: no need for [offering of] gold, when there is this robe.

Dong Guodu, formal name Yuanqing, of Jiangxi province, passed the national exams in the sixth year of Song emperor Huizong, and became Jiaoshui (in Shandong province) county governor’s secretary. Upon Jin army’s incursion south, he stayed at his post by himself, while his family remained in Jiangxi. After the central plains fell to the Jin army, he became stranded. Abandoning his post, he sought refuge in the neighboring countryside. He became good friends with his landlord who, sympathetic toward his situation, arranged the purchase of a concubine for him.

It’s not clear where that concubine is from, but she is smart as well as beautiful. Seeing Dong’s financial straits, she started to plan a way out. She used the entire savings to purchase donkeys and wheat. She would mill the wheat using the donkeys, then every couple of days, would ride the donkey into the city to sell the flours, returning in the evening with money. Three years passed like this, a lot of money was earned, enough to purchase house and land.

Never less, separated from his mother, wife, and two sons, with all communications cut off, Dong was often melancholic, rarely joyful. Over the years the concubine often asked him reasons for his poor mood, now he told her everything: “I was actually a Song official, my whole family is in the south, I alone am drifting outside, not sure when I would return. My heart breaks every time I think about this.” The concubine replied “why didn’t you say so earlier. I have an older brother who loves to help people. He will arrive soon, and we can ask him for help.”

In ten days or so, a tall man with big curly beards showed up. He rode in on a tall horse, trailed by ten or so carriages. The concubine said “Here he is, my older brother has arrived!” She rushed out to greet the man, and introduced him to Dong. The three of them drank until deep into the night. Only then did the concubine brought up the issue of returning to the south.

But now Dong started to become afraid. At this time there was a standing order by the Jin government, anyone who was a Song official must volunteer his status. If it was revealed by others, he would be put to death. Afraid to let this secret come out, Dong started to deny he was a Song official. The curly bearded man started to become angry, but held it in check “You and my younger sister had been a couple several years now. You are like my flesh-and-blood now. This is why I’m willing to risk my life to help you return south. If you’re discovered, I would be in trouble because of you. Seeing how you are behaving now, how can I be sure you won’t betray me when we encounter trouble? Here, hand over the official order for you assignment as collateral, otherwise I will turn you over first thing in the morning.” Dong, becoming even more afraid, thinking he would be dead no matter what he does, handed over the document. After the curly bearded man was gone, he spent the rest of the night in tears, panicking, not knowing what to do, what to expect.

Early next morning, the bearded man showed up with an additional horse, telling Dong “Let’s go.” Surprised and overjoyed, Dong rushed back inside to get the concubine. But she said to him “I have some urgent matters that I must take care off, I can’t leave just yet, I shall come looking for you next year. I’ve sewn a quilted robe for you. I wear it and go with older brother. When you arrive in the south, my brother will attempt to give you money, perhaps in the hundreds of thousands, but you must refuse it no matter what. If he persists, hold up this robe and show it to him. The reason for this is I’ve done a big favor for him before. Escorting you back to the south by itself is not enough to return that favor. If he accepted his money, he’d think we’re even and he won’t bother helping me come over as well. So be careful, take care not to lose this robe.”

Dong was stunned, all of this is just too bizarre. Afraid to draw the curiosity of neighbors, he hastily bid his concubine a teary farewell. They sped to the coastline, where a large ship is about to leave. The bearded man ordered Dong to board immediately, and bid farewell himself. The ship immediately sailed south.

Alone on his journey, with hardly any money on him, Dong felt awkward. However everyone on the ship was extremely courteous toward him, offering him food, drink, everything he needed. Yet no one asked a word about his destination.

Several days later, the ship arrived in the Song territory. When they docked, the bearded man was already waiting by the bank. He took Dong to a restaurant to celebrate his arrival, where he offered Dong twenty ounces of gold. Remembering what the concubine told him, Dong firmly declined. The bearded man was equally firm: “You arrive home with empty pockets. What are you planning to do, have your wife and children starve together with you?!” With that said, he got up and left. Dong chased him down outside, and held up the quilted robe. Staring at the robe, the bearded man was astonished, but he quickly recovered and laughed, “Sigh, she is indeed smarter than me. Looks like my work is not done yet. I will escort your beauty back here next year.” With that, he turned around and left.

Upon returning home, Dong Guodu found everyone to be fine. They spent much time talking about what had transpired since the separation. At one point Dong’s wife held up the robe to examine it closely, and saw yellowish light dimly emanating from it. Upon taking it apart, they saw there’s a gold leaf inside each quilted patch.

After settling things at home, Dong reported back to the central government, where he received a promotion as a county level junior military officer. In the second year of his return, the big curly bearded man brought over his beloved concubine as promised. The two of them lived together to happy old age.

俠婦人

董國度,字符卿,饒州人。宣和六年進土第,調萊州膠水簿。會北兵動,留家于鄉,獨處官所。中原陷,不得歸,棄官走村落,頗与逆旅主人相得。怜其窮,為買一妾,不知何許人也,性意解,有姿色。見董貧,則以治生為己任,罄家所有,買磨驢七八頭,麥數十斛。每得面,自騎入市鬻之,至晚負錢以歸。如是三年,獲利益多有田宅矣。

董与母妻隔別滋久,消息杳不通,居常戚戚,意緒無卿。妾叩其故。董嬖愛已深,不复隱,為言:“我故南官也,一家皆在鄉里,身獨漂泊,茫無歸期。每一想念,心亂欲死。”妾曰:“如是,何不早告我?我兄善為人謀事,旦夕且至,請為君籌之。”

旬日,果有估客,長身虯髯,騎大馬,驅車十余乘過門,妾曰:“吾兄至矣。”出迎拜,使董相見,敘姻戚之禮。留飲至夜,妾始言前事以屬客。是時,虜令:見宋官亡命,許自陳匿;不言而被首者,死。董業已泄漏,又疑兩人欲圖已,大悔懼,乃绐曰:“無之。”客忿然怒且笑曰:“以女弟托質數年,相与如骨肉,故昌禁欲致君南歸,而見疑如此!倘中道有變,且累我!當取君告身与我以為信,不然,天明執告官矣!”董益懼,自分必死,探囊中文書悉与之。終夕涕泣,一听于客。

客去,明日控一馬來,曰:“行矣!”董請妾与俱。妾曰:“适有故,須少留。明年當相尋。吾手制一納袍贈君,君謹取之,維吾兄馬首所向。若返國,兄或舉數十万錢相贈,當勿取。如不可卻,則舉袍示之。彼嘗受我恩,今送君歸,未足以報德,當复護我去。万一受其獻,則彼責已塞,無复顧我矣!善守此袍,亡失也!”董愕然,怪其語不倫,且慮鄰里知覺,輒揮涕上馬,疾馳到海上。有大舟,臨解維,客麾使登,揖而別。舟遽南行,略無資糧道路之費,茫不知所為。舟中奉侍甚謹,具食不相問訊。才達南岸,客已先在水濱,邀詣旗亭,相勞苦,出黃金二十兩,曰:“以是為太夫人壽。”董憶妾語,力辭之。客不可,曰:“赤手還國,欲与妻子餓死耶?”強留金而出。董追挽之,示以袍。客曰:“吾智果出被下。吾事殊未了,明年挈君麗人來!”徑去,不返顧。

董至家,母妻二子俱無恙。取袍示家人,縫綻處黃色隱然,拆視之,滿中皆箔金也。逾年,客果以妾至,偕老焉。

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2 Responses to “Portraits of Thirty-three Swordsmen – 31 Xia wife”


  1. 1 Bai Yiming
    2011-02-20 at 1:16 AM

    Finally, I got a chance to scroll thru your blog. Very nice, though I’m not much a fan of Jin Yong, lol.
    There is a lot worthy info in your blog, also in your informed posts on RSF, where I learned that you are about to publish a book. May I aks what the topic is? And would it be asked too much to inform us on purchasing your work?

    A belated Chinese New Year of the Hare, phase metall, heavenly stem/earth branch xinmao.
    Hermann from southern Taiwan

    Like

    • 2 wuyizidi
      2011-02-20 at 9:25 AM

      Hermann, happy new years to you!

      The Portraits of 33 Swordsman are classics from Tang and Song dynasties. Jin Yong included them in his novela Xia Ke Xing. These original stories are very short, he had wanted to flesh out each one into a fully developed story, but stopped after first one. If these stores are shocking, bizarre, and not to our liking, a major reason is they’re from an era where code of morality is so different from today’s.

      I’m helping my teacher Zhang Yun write a complete annotated translation of Taiji Quan classics. There are over 100 articles – covering everyone from Wang Zhongyue, Wu Yuxiang, Li Yiyu, Niu Lianyua, Song Shuming, to ones passed down from Chen, Yang, and Wu families. So it has taken a while (working on it since 2000). But the first draft is done, and we’re in the editing process. It will definitely be done by year’s end. Will definitely make an announcement when it’s published.

      Regards,

      Wuyizidi

      Like


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