Jiang finally found a friend with whom he could compete in drinking, but the secret that this friend kept shocked him.
Jiang Xiu was a tavern owner in Bingzhou. He loved his drink so much that he was seldom sober. He usually enjoyed drinking with others. However, the people of Bingzhou were wary of his excessive drinking.
When he invited them to drink with him, most would avoid him, leaving Jiang Xiu with few friends. One day, a guest arrived at his tavern – a man dressed in black from head to toe, standing only three feet tall but with an unusually thick waist.
This guest came to visit Jiang Xiu and asked for some wine. Upon hearing this request, Jiang Xiu was overjoyed and immediately sat down to drink with the visitor.
The guest laughed and said, “I’ve always loved drinking, but I often regret that my stomach cannot always be full of wine. If my stomach is full, I feel content and happy; if not, I find life rather dull. Can you accommodate me for a long time?I have long admired your noble character; please allow me to treat you well.”
Jiang Xiu responded: “Sir, you share my love for wine – we are truly kindred spirits! We should become close friends.” They then sat down together on the ground and started drinking.
The guest drank nearly three stones’ worth of wine yet showed no signs of drunkenness. This surprised Jiang Xiu who began to suspect that his guest was no ordinary person. He stood up to pay respect to the visitor and asked about where he lived and what his name was.
How could he consume so much alcohol?
The guest replied: “My surname is Cheng and my given name is Deqi. My ancestors mostly lived in rural areas where they occasionally encountered divine blessings which made them useful in their time.
Now that I am old and have cultivated some Taoist practices, I can drink wine. To fill my stomach, I need about five stones’ worth of wine. Only when it’s full do I feel somewhat comfortable.”
Upon hearing this, Jiang Xiu poured more wine and they continued drinking.
It wasn’t until the guest had consumed five stones’ worth of wine that he became thoroughly drunk and began to sing and dance wildly. He sighed to himself: “Oh, the joy! The joy!” before collapsing onto the ground.
Jiang Xiu thought that his guest was completely intoxicated and instructed his servants to help him into a room. However, once inside, the guest suddenly leapt up in a panic and ran out.
The servants chased after him only to see him crash into a stone with a loud crack and disappear. When daylight came, they found an old wine jar at the spot where the guest had vanished. It was broken.
The original story is recorded in《潇湘录》.