Experience a magical tale of a father and son's daring adventure to steal peaches with extraordinary skills, raising questions about their connection to the White Lotus Sect.
When I didn’t pass the provincial examination, I went to Jinan to participate in the county examination, coincidentally during the Spring Festival. According to the old customs, on the day before the beginning of spring, businesses of all kinds would put up colorful archways, beat gongs and drums, and go to the local government office to offer congratulations. This was called “Yan Chun.” I also went along with my friends to join in the festivities.
On that day, there were many tourists, and they surrounded us like walls. I saw four officials in red official robes sitting facing each other in the main hall of the government office. At that time, I was still young and didn’t know what kind of officials they were. I only felt the noise of the crowd around me, with drums and gongs deafening my ears. Suddenly, a man with a child whose hair was disheveled came forward carrying a burden, and he knelt down as if he had said a few words. At that moment, amidst the clamor, I couldn’t hear what was said, but I saw the officials in the hall laughing. Then, a man in blue clothing loudly ordered him to perform a magic trick. The man agreed and stood up, asking, “What magic trick should I perform?” The officials in the hall discussed for a moment and sent an underling to ask him what kind of magic trick he was good at. He replied, “I can make things appear that don’t grow in accordance with the seasons.” The underling reported his words to the hall, and after a while, he came down from the hall and ordered the man to transform peaches.
The magician agreed to do it. He took off his clothes and covered a square bamboo basket, intentionally looking annoyed as he said, “Sir, you really don’t understand the situation. The thick ice hasn’t even melted yet, so where can I find peaches? If I don’t find any, I’m afraid I’ll upset the official. What should I do?” His son said, “Dad, you’ve already agreed, how can you refuse now?” The magician worried for a moment and then said, “I’ve been thinking for a long time. It’s early spring, and the world is covered in ice and snow. Where can we find peaches on earth? Only in the Peach Garden of the Queen Mother of Heaven, where the fruit trees never wither throughout the year. Perhaps we can find some there. We must go up to the heavens to steal them, that’s the only way.” His son asked, “Can we climb to the heavens?” His father replied, “I have a spell.” So, he opened the bamboo basket and took out a bundle of rope, probably dozens of yards long. He unraveled one end of the rope and threw it into the sky. The rope immediately hung in the air as if it were hanging on something. After a while, the rope was thrown higher and higher, gradually extending into the ethereal clouds, reaching its end. At this point, the man called his son and said, “Come here, my child! I’m old and feeble, and my body is not agile anymore. I can’t climb up there. You’ll have to go.” After saying that, he handed the rope to his son and said, “Just pull on it, and you’ll be able to climb up.” The son took the rope, looking hesitant, and complained, “Dad, you’re being too careless. You want me to climb thousands of feet high with this thin thread-like rope. What if the rope breaks halfway? Where will they find my remains?” The father tried to comfort and persuade him, saying, “I’ve already given my word, and there’s no turning back now. Please, my child, don’t complain. If we can steal the peaches, the official will reward us with over a hundred taels of silver, and I’ll find you a beautiful wife.” Only then did the son grasp the rope and begin to climb. With his hands moving and his feet following suit, he climbed like a spider on its silk thread, gradually ascending higher and higher until he disappeared into the sky.
After a long time, a peach fell from the sky, as big as a bowl. The magician was very happy and presented it in the courtroom. The officials in the hall examined it for a long time, unsure if it was real or fake. Suddenly, the rope fell to the ground, and the magician was shocked, saying, “Dangerous! Someone above must have broken my rope. How can my child come down now?” After a while, something else fell, and it turned out to be his son’s head. The man held the head and cried out, “It must be the guards who discovered us while stealing the peaches. My son is done for this time!” After some time, one of his feet also fell. Then, piece by piece, his limbs and torso all fell down, and there was nothing left. The magician was in great sorrow. He picked up the body parts one by one and placed them in a bamboo box, covering it. He said, “I only had this one son, who followed me every day as we traveled. He obeyed the official’s command to fetch the peaches, but I never expected him to die so tragically! I must carry him back and bury him.” So he knelt down in the courtroom and said, “Because of the peaches, my son was harmed! If you gentlemen have pity on me, help me bury him. In my next life, I will repay you all.” Several officials sitting in the hall were greatly horrified and gave him silver rewards. The magician took the money and tied it to his waist, then patted the bamboo basket and said, “Eight-eight, if you don’t come out to thank the officials for their rewards, what are you waiting for?” Suddenly, a disheveled child crawled out from under the bamboo basket lid, knelt before the officials in the northern hall, and bowed – it was none other than the magician’s son.
Because of the magician’s extraordinary skills, I still remember this incident to this day. Later, I heard people say that the White Lotus Sect could also perform such magic tricks. I wondered if the father and son were descendants of the White Lotus Sect.