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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

The third by the Chief Justice of the great Gehenna


things may not be used as drugs. It is bad enough to slay birds, beasts, reptiles, and fishes, in order to prepare medicine for the sick; but to use red lead and many of the filthy messes in vogue is beyond all bounds of decency, and those who foul their mouths with these nasty mixtures, no matter how virtuous they may otherwise be, will not only derive no benefit from saying their prayers, but will be punished for so doing without mercy.

Ye who hear these words make haste to repent! From to-day forbear to take life, buy many birds and animals in order to set them free,[387] and every morning when you wash your teeth mutter a prayer to Buddha. Thus, when your last hour comes, a good angel will stand by your side and purify you of your former sins.

Some steal the bones of people who have been burnt to death or the bodies of illegitimate children, for the purpose of compounding medicines; others steal skulls and bones (from graves) with the same object. Worst of all are those who carry off bones by the basketful, using the hard ones for making various articles and grinding down the soft ones for the manufacture of pottery.[388] These, no matter what may have been their good works on earth, will not obtain thereby any remission of punishment; but when they are brought down below, the Ruler of the Infernal Regions will first pass them from the great Gehenna into the proper wards, and will send instructions to the

Tenth Court that when they are born again on earth it shall be either without ears, or eyes, hand, foot, mouth, lips, or nose, or maimed in some way or other. Yet such as have thus sinned may still avoid this punishment, if only they are willing to pray and repent, vowing never to sin again. Or if they buy coffins for the poor and persuade others to do likewise, by these means giving a decent burial to many corpses--then, when the death-summons comes, the Spirits of the Home and Hearth will make a black mark upon the warrant, and punishment will be remitted.

Sometimes, when there is a famine, people have nothing to eat and die of hunger, and wicked men, almost before the breath is out of their bodies, cut them up and sell their flesh to others for food--a horrid crime indeed. Those who are guilty of such practices will, on arrival in the lower regions, be tortured in the various Courts for the space of forty-nine[389] days, and then the judge of the Tenth Court will be instructed to notify the judge of the First Court to put them down in his register for a new birth,--if among men, as hungry famished outcasts, and if among animals as loathing the food that falls to their lot, and by-and-by perishing of hunger. Such is their reward. Besides the above, those who have eaten what is unfit for food and willingly continue to do so, will be punished either among men or animals according to their deserts. Their throats will swell, and though devoured by hunger they will be unable to swallow, and thus die. Those who do not err a second time may be forgiven as they deserve; but those who in times of distress subscribe money for the sufferers, prepare gruel, give away rice to the needy, or distribute ginger tea[390] and soup in the open street, and thus sustain life a little longer and do real good to their fellow creatures--all these shall not only obtain remission of their sins, but carry on a balance of good to their account which shall ensure them a happy old age in the life to come.[391]

Of the above three clauses, two were proposed by the officials attached to this Seventh Court, the third by the Chief Justice of the great Gehenna, and the whole submitted together for the approval of God, the following Rescript being obtained:--"Let it be as proposed; let the three clauses be copied into the _Divine Panorama_, and let the officials concerned be promoted or rewarded. Also, in case of crimes other than those already provided for, let such be punished according to the statutes of the Rulers of the Four Continents on earth, and let any evasion of punishment and implication of innocent people be at once reported by the proper officials for our consideration. This from the Throne! Obey!"

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