Pu Songling: The Story of a Myna ~ 蒲松龄 《鸲鹆》 with English Translations


蒲松龄 《鸲鹆》


The Story of a Myna
Pu Songling

Wang Fenbin said that in his village there was a man who had a myna. He trained it to speak and they got attached to each other. Wherever he went he took it with him. They had been together for years.

When he was arriving at Jiangzhou one day, he found that he had run out of money. He was upset, not knowing what to do. The myna said, “Why not sell me? Take me to the perfect and you can sell me for a good price and traveling expenses will be no problem.” The man said, “I can’t bear to sell you.” The myna said, “That’s nothing. As soon as you get the money, get away from here quickly and wait for e under a big tree about twenty li west of town.” The man took its advice. He went to town with the bird, engaging it in brief conversations. Soon they attracted many onlookers. The steward of the perfect saw the bird and told the prefect about it. The prefect summoned the man to his house and he wanted to buy the bird. The man said, “We depend on each other for survival. I cannot sell it to you.” The prefect asked the bird, “Do you like to stay with me?” The bird answered, “Yes, I do.” The prefect was delighted to hear it. Then the bird said again, “Give him ten liang of silver and no more.” The prefect was all the more delighted. He gave the man ten liang of silver. The man left, with a feigned look of dejection.

The prefect asked the bird questions and the bird answered with great readiness. He ordered to give it meat to eat. The moment it finished the eat, the bird said, “I want to take a bath.” The prefect ordered to bring a gold basin, fill it with water, open the cage and let it bathe in it. When the bath was over, the bird flew up to the eave where it shook off the water and trimmed its plumage, in the meantime, chattering away with the prefect. In another moment its plumage was dried and the bird fluttered up, saying in the local accent, “I am going, sir.” When they looked up to see, the bird was out of sight. The prefect and his servants could do nothing but sigh toward the sky. When servants were sent to look for the birdman he was nowhere to be found. Later someone, traveling to Shaanxi, saw the man with his bird in Xi’an.

This story is told by Mr. Bi Zaiji.

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