Chinese Folklore: Qin Hui the Stinker

Fu Zheng, Ed.

PureInsight | November 14, 2005

[] There is a Yue Fei Shrine on the bank of West Lake in Hangzhou City. [Note: General Yue Fei is a much-celebrated hero of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279 A.D.) He is known for his courage and patriotism, and credited with defending China against northern invaders. He died a tragic death at the hands of a court official named Qin Hui.] In front of the Shrine there are four cast iron kneeling statues. Two statues are Qin Hui and his wife, Madam Wang, responsible for betraying the country and murdering Yue Fei.

It was said that, in the Ming Dynasty, a new Futai (provincial governor-general) assumed office in Hangzhou City. This person was also surnamed Qin, and was Qin Hui's descendant. Not long after taking up the post, one day the Futai led one of his subordinates on a tour of the West Lake. When he came to the Yue Fei Shrine and saw his ancestor keening down before Yue Fei, he hurriedly covered his face with cloth and backed up.

After returning to the yamen (a government office in feudal China), the Futai was very nervous. He called his subordinate in to discuss how to remove the iron-cast statues.

The subordinate stroked his beard, thought for a little while, and said, "If we remove the statues openly, the common people certainly won't allow it, and they might even stir things up. In my opinion, it's better to have this pair of statues thrown into the West Lake. Sunken in such a huge lake, they won't possibly be found even if the lake water was all siphoned out."

The Futai said, "Excellent! Excellent!" So he had the statues removed that very night and the statues were then thrown into the lake.

Unexpectedly, at dawn the very next morning, a strange thing happened: the water of West Lake began to smell. It smelled so bad that people became lethargic and wanted to throw up when they went near the water.

Someone discovered two iron-cast statues in front of the Yue Fei Shrine were missing, and yelled, "Come and see, two statues are missing. Somebody must have thrown them into the West Lake. Otherwise, why would the water stink so badly?"

After finding that the statues in front the Yue Fei Shrine were missing, many common people came to the Futai yamen to report it and request that the criminals responsible for removing the statues be arrested.

The Futai was still sleeping. Hearing a lot of noise, he got up and asked what was going on. His subordinate explained to him what was happening. Having a guilty conscience, the Futai told his subordinate to spread the word that he was ill.

Would the common folks leave? Hardly. More and more people came and the crowd almost pushed down the stone lions in front of the government compound. The Futai was afraid something big would happen if things kept on going like that, so he forced himself to come out and face the crowd. He said, "This – is all rumor. Please don't be so ready to believe it."

The common people said, "You'll know when you see whether it's rumor or not."

The crowd surrounded the Futai and was determined to drag him to go and have a look. The Futai had no other choice but to sit on the large sedan chair carried by eight people and they came to the West Lake. A few li's (the distance unit used by Chinese people. 1 li = 500 meters, or 0.3 mile) away from the lakefront, he smelled a strong odor blowing straight to the sedan chair. Luckily he hadn't eaten breakfast in the morning because he didn't get a chance. Even then he barely managed to hold back the vomit.

Upon arriving at the lakefront, the Futai peeked through the curtain seam, and saw nothing but dense crowd in front of him. With his heart beating fast, he walked out of the sedan chair slowly. He dry-coughed several times and said, "It's normal for the lake water to stink once in a while, and you don't have to make a big fuss about it. In my opinion, this has nothing to do with the iron-cast statues."

By now, some people roared in the crowd, "What's your relationship with Qin Hui? Why would you even shield him?!"

For a while, the Futai didn't know what to answer. He calmed himself down and thought to himself, "Don't panic! The statues have sunk to the bottom of the lake, who can possibly find them?" The thoughts comforted him greatly, and he said arrogantly, "Stop deliberately creating trouble! If anybody can really scoop the statues out of the lake, this official is willing to resign and ask for punishment!"

As soon as his words came out, the pitch-black lake water suddenly became limpid and clear. A pair of iron-cast statues floated off from the bottom of the lake, as if lifted by somebody, drifted straight toward the Futai.

The Futai was frightened and his face turned yellow. He rushed into the sedan chair headfirst and yelled, "Run! Run!"

The crowd started to throw stones toward his chair as he ran away. When the sedan chair arrived at the yamen, many holes had already been punched into the canopy by stones. The back of the Fautai's head had three large bumps each as big as a walnut. That very night, not daring to wear the official headgear, the descendant of Qin Hui escaped Hangzhou City like a drowned mouse.
After the iron-cast statues drifted to shore, the common people scooped them out of the water and put them back to kneel at the Yue Fei Shrine.

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