Storehouse of Laughter – Chapter 1





Teaching the son

A rich man was illiterate, and people persuaded him to hire a teacher to teach his son. The teacher came and started by teaching him how to hold the brush. He drew one stroke, and said “this is the number one.” (一) Two strokes, “the number two.” (二) Three strokes, “the number three.” (三) The son then joyously tossed aside the brush, and told his father: “Even ghosts can learn how to write. I don’t need a teacher any more.” And so the teacher was dismissed. Soon afterwards, the father wanted to invite a relative named Wan (“thousand”) to a banquet. He told his son to rise early and prepare the invitation, but after a long while it was still not ready. The father asked what was going on, and the son despairingly replied: “Of all the names to choose, why be called Thousand? From dawn till now, I’ve only managed Five Hundred.”

Yet another person asked how to write the character “jiang” (ginger). The reply came: First the grass radical, then the number one, then the character for field, another one, another field and then the number one. The person wrote Grassnumberonefieldnumberonefieldnumberone. He looked at it and angrily said: “Why mock me like this? This isn’t a character, it’s a tower!”





A military official was on campaign, and close to being beaten, when suddenly a supernatural being in the guise of a soldier turned the tide and helped him win a great victory. The official kowtowed and asked the spirit for his name. The spirit replied: “I am the Spirit of Targets.” The official asked: “What virtue do I have, that I deserve the kind mercy and assistance of the Spirit of Targets?” He replied: “I’m grateful to you for when you were on the training field, you never once hit me with your arrows.” (Also translated by Giles)

Today’s military officials are unwilling to practice archery, and put themselves exclusively at the mercy of the Spirit of Targets.


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