1993 / 7月
Hung I-nan /tr. by Robert Taylor
1.One day the emperor, sitting on his jade throne in his golden hall received the scholar who had come first in the latest imperial examinations.
2. The scholar was an extraordinarily handsome young man, and the emperor took an immediate liking to him and decided to make him his son-in-law.
3. Soon afterwards, at the emperor's command, the scholar was married to a princess.
4. The wedding ceremony went off without a hitch amid great joy and merriment, but the young scholar's heart did not seem to be in it.
5. He didn't want to get close to the princess at all.
6. Stranger still, when they went to bed at night he wouldn't even take off his clothes.
7. Finally the princess could bear it no longer and told the empress.
8. The empress told the emperor right away.
9. "Is there something my son-in-law is dissatisfied with?" The palace servants were shocked and thought long and hard, but did not dare to speak their minds.
10. "Let's try something: please hold a banquet for your son-in-law right away, and have me wait on him at table."
11. That evening, the chamberlain secretly doctored the wine, but the emperor's son-in-law noticed nothing.
12. Late that night, after the son-in-law had returned home, the drug began to take effect. He unconsciously undressed and fell down asleep; and the princess discovered that her consort was in fact a young woman.
13. When the scholar awoke she saw that her secret was out, and immediately knelt down before the princess to explain.
14. "I was studying together with my husband to help him take part in the imperial examinations, but he unexpectedly fell ill, so I dressed up as a man and came to the capital in his place ... I never thought things would turn out this way! I beg your Highness' forgiveness!"
15. "What on earth was it you put in the wine?" "It was drunken immortal's peach!"
16. Thorn-apple is a toxic drug used externally to treat rheumatism and blisters, but the chamberlain knew that the plant is also a narcotic, and so he daringly used it. Fearing he would lose his head if he spoke its real name, he called it "drunken immortal's peach" (tsui hsien tao), which has remained one of its names in Chinese. Thorn-apple is also known as jimson weed; the seeds are used medicinally.
Datura stramonium (Solanaceae) Known as thorn-apple in Britain and jimson weed in the USA.
Description: Trumpet or funnelshaped flowers; the rim of the flower divides into five lobes; pointed ovate leaves.
Properties: Flowers and seeds of pungent flavor and warm property.
Applications: The leaves and seeds are used for asthma and spasmodic coughs, and can also be used to treat other complaints such as neuralgia and gout.
Contraindications: The flowers, leaves, stem and seeds are all poisonous and seeds are all poisonous and must not be eaten.