At last he came to the province West-of-the-River, and was received into an important house, where there were more than fifteen women, all beautiful and young. His feeling toward each of these was of so lively a nature that twenty days had passed before he could make up his mind to go away. Now the husband of one of these girls perceived him and, at once falling in love with him, arranged that his wife should cause him to come to their house. Flowering Mulberry went, suspecting nothing, and hardly had he entered before the man came into the room, took him by the waist and embraced him. Naturally he protested and began to cry out; but the husband took not the slightest notice of that. He pushed him on to the next room and searched him with shameless hands. It was his turn to cry out: the slaves ran in, bound Flowering Mulberry, and led him to the court of justice. In front of the judge he tried to plead that he had adopted his disguise in order to gain his living. But torture drew from him his real name and the true motive of his behavior, together with an account of his latest exploits.
The Governor sent a report to the higher authorities, for he had no precedent and knew not to what punishment to condemn him. The Viceroy decided that the case must come under the law of adultery, and also under that which dealt with the propagation of immorality. The penalty was a slow death. No extenuating circumstances were admitted. So ended this story.
Hsing shih heng yen (1627), 10th Tale.
THE MONASTERY OF THE ESTEEMED-LOTUS
In the town of Eternal Purity there was once a large monastery dedicated to the Esteemed-Lotus. It contained hundreds of rooms, and its grounds covered several thousand acres. Its wealth and prosperity were due to the possession of a famous relic.
The bonzes, who numbered about a hundred, lived in luxury; and visitors were sure to be received by one of them from the moment of entry, and to be invited to take tea and cakes. Now in the temple there was a “Babies’ Chapel,” which was reputed to possess miraculous virtue. By passing the night in it and burning incense, women who wished to have a son obtained a son: those who wished for a daughter obtained a daughter.
Round the main hall were set several cells. Women who wished for children had to be of vigorous age and free from malady. They used to fast for seven days, and then go into the temple to prostrate themselves before Fo, and to consult the wands of divination.
If the omens were favorable, they passed a night locked up alone in one of the cells, for the purpose of prayer. If the omens were unfavorable, it was because their prayers had not been sufficiently sincere. The bonzes made this fault known to them; and they began their seven days’ fast anew, before returning to make their devotions.