Storehouse of Laughter – Chapter 4

笑府卷四 方術部

墨憨子曰。孔墨之後。儒分為八。墨離為三。白再踰而成黑。雖小道。必有可笑者焉。集方術部。

Diverse occupations

Mohanzi says: After the time of Confucius and Mozi, the Confucians split into eight schools, while the Mohians split into three. White has shaded into black. Although these are minor occupations, there is still much worth laughing about (a reference to the Analects, Zi Zhang 4: “Zi Xia said: ‘Even in the minor occupations, there is something worth looking at ….'” 子夏曰:「雖小道,必有可觀者焉;致遠恐泥,是以君子不為也。). The chapter on diverse occupations follows.

身𤍠

小兒患身熱。服藥而[死]。其父詣醫家咎之。醫不信。自往騐視。撫兒尸。謂其父曰。你太欺心。身子幸已凉矣。
此與醫駝背用夹板者同。人但知此是笑話。不知執古方治病。頭痛醫頭脚痛醫脚者。皆此類也。

Fever

A child fell ill with fever, and died after receiving medicine. His father accused the physician of failing to do his duty. The physician did not believe this, and came himself to check. On touching the child’s body, he turned to the father and said: “You’re spreading lies; the fever’s gone!”
This is the same sort of person who uses a vise to cure a hunchback. One doesn’t need to be told that’s a joke, but the old way of treating illness, only treating the head when there’s a headache and only treating the foot when there’s a footache, is cut from the same cloth.

藥闘

病兒服藥後。腹痛甚。兒父走問醫者。醫者曰。無訪此。吾藥與病鬦耳。言未畢。家人跟蹌而至。報兒[死]矣。醫拊掌曰。我說鬦我的藥不[過]。

Fighting medicine

A sick child was given some medicine, but his belly started hurting very much. The child’s father went to ask the physician, and the physician said: “Don’t ask any more, it’s just the medicine fighting the illness.” But before he could finish speaking, a family member came running up to report that the child had died. The physician clapped his hands and said: “I told you that my medicine can’t be beaten in a fight!”

冥王訪名醫

冥王遣冥卒訪陽間名醫。命之曰。門前無寃鬼者即是。每[過]醫門。寃鬼畢集。最後至一家。見門前獨鬼徬徨。曰。此可當名醫矣。問之。乃昨日新竪藥牌者。

Hades seeks a good physician

Hades despatched his minions to seek out a good physician in the world of the living, telling them: “You will know when you come to a good physician because he will have no aggrieved spirits hanging around his door.” But at every physician’s doorway, the minions of Hades found plenty of aggrieved spirits. Finally they came to one physician’s house where there was only one aggrieved spirit walking to and fro in front of it. They said to each other: “This must be finally the good physician!” But when they asked, it turned out that he had only started his practice yesterday.

一醫。々[死]人兒。即以己兒賠之。無何。醫死人僕。家止一僕。入以賠之。一夜又有叩門者。云娘々產裡病。煩看。醫私謂妻曰。又看中意你了。

Compensation

A physician, who killed someone’s child when treating it, compensated him with his own child. Soon afterward, he killed someone’s servant, and offered up a servant from his own household as compensation. One evening, yet another came knocking on his door, saying: “My mistress at home is sick, please come and see her.” The physician whispered to his wife: “Looks like someone is interested in you.”

殭蚕

一醫甚無生理。忽求藥者至。開箱取藥。中多蛀虫。人問此何物。曰殭蚕。又問殭蚕如何是活的。曰。喫我藥耳。

只怕人喫了。倒做了殭蚕。

Silkworm larvae

A physician had no business for a long time, when he finally had a patient who needed medicine. When he opened his medicine chest, it was full of bookworms. The patient asked him what they were, and he replied that they were silkworm larvae (jiangcan, dried larvae used in traditional Chinese medicine). The patient asked again, how is it that they are alive? The physician replied: because they ate some of my medicine.

One fears that if humans eat it, they would become silkworm larvae.

送藥

一醫遷居。謂鄰舍曰。向來打攪。無物可將別敬。每位奉藥一帖。鄰舍辭以無病。醫曰。喫我藥起來。自然有病。

Gift of medicine

A physician moved house, and called on his new neighbors, saying: “I have been bothering you all lately, but haven’t yet brought anything as a greeting gift. Here is a gift of medicine for everybody.” The neighbor protested that there was nothing wrong with him, and the physician replied: “Once you eat my medicine, there will definitely be something wrong.”

病家請醫看。醫許以無事。費多金。竟不起。病家恨甚。遣僕往罵之。頃間便回。問曾罵否。曰。不曾。問何以不罵。曰。罵者太多。教我如何擠得上。

Scolding

A sick person called for a physician. The physician said that everything would be fine, but even after spending a lot of money, he was still not better. He was very angry and sent his servant to go berate the physician. In a short while, the servant was back. When asked if he had scolded the physician, he said no. “Why not?” asked the master. The servant replied: “There were too many people there who wanted to scold him. I couldn’t squeeze my way through.”

願脚踢

樵人擔柴。誤觸醫士。醫怒。欲揮拳。樵跪曰寧受脚踢。旁人訝之。樵曰。經他手。定是難活。

Willing to be kicked

A woodcutter was carrying wood, and accidentally hit a physician. The physician was furious, and wanted to slap him. The woodcutter fell to his knees and said that he would rather be kicked. Onlookers were perplexed. The woodcutter explained: “Anyone who passes through his hands is uncertain to live.”

跳虱藥 (跳音條)

一人寫招牌。出賣上好跳虱藥。問如何用藥。曰捉住跳虱。以藥抹其嘴。即[死]矣。問者曰。既捉住。何不搯殺了省事。曰。如此說來。你的方子更好。

Lice medicine

Someone put up a sign to advertise his medicine for killing lice. When asked how to use the medicine, he said: “First you catch the louse, then smear the medicine on its mouth until it dies.” “Since I’ve already caught it, why not just crush it and be done with it?” “Now that you say it, that might work even better.”

一人往觀武塲。飛箭誤穿其耳。迎外科治之。醫用小鋸々其外簳。即索謝求去。內截如何。曰。這待裡科來。

Arrow

Someone went to watch a military display, when a stray arrow pierced his ear. A surgeon was brought to him, who used a small saw to saw off the arrow shaft protruding from his ear, and asked for his fee. “What about the bit that’s stuck inside?” The reply came: “That will have to wait for the specialist in internal medicine.”

三阿弟

漢時有一神相來訪劉玄德。劉使觀相。々者曰。汝相甚好。白面而白心。因令相雲長。相者曰。汝相亦好。赤面而赤心。劉聞之。急握張翼德手曰。三阿弟險矣。莫相罷。

Third Brother

During the Han period, a famous physiognomist came to visit Liu Bei. Liu allowed him to read his fortune from his features, and the physiognomist said: “Your features are very fine. Your face is fair and so is your heart.” He then went to read the face of Guan Yu, and told him: “Your features are exceedingly fine. A ruddy face and a ruddy heart.” Liu heard this, and rushed to see Zhang Fei. Taking his hand, he said: “Third Brother – your face is not your fate, is it?” (Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei famously swore brotherhood in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Guan Yu is usually depicted with a reddish complexion, and Zhang Fei with a black one.)

風水

有酷信風水者。動輒問陰陽家。一日偶坐墻下。忽墻倒被壓。亟呼救命。家人軰曰。且忍看。待我去問陰陽先生。今日可動得土否。

微俗多溺風水。甚者盜埋易骨。無所不至。又有覔得一善地者。云極富貴。但須尅[過]士人。乃發。其人欣然定穴。問其親丁幾何。自數不[過]六人耳。尤可笑。袁了凡先生訪地。至光福。問一村農。曰。頗聞此䖏隹穴否。曰。小人生長于斯。三十餘年矣。但見帶紗帽者來尋地。不見帶紗帽者來上墳。先生嘿然而去。此村農近有道者。要之風水不可過信。亦不可不信。余又聞一笑話云。有于暑月舟行者。鄰人止之曰。語云朝華不出市。今日天色必變。風々水々。行船不易。勿出可也。其人不從前途。果值風雨。幾覆夜往謝鄰人。鄰人曰。我原說有風水的。你自不信耳。

Fengshui

There was a man who believed deeply in fengshui, and wouldn’t do anything without first asking a fengshui master’s advice. One day he was sitting by a wall, when the wall suddenly fell down and trapped him. He cried out for help, and one of his household responded: “Hang in there, while I go ask the fengshui master, whether it is permissible to dig today.”

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