The Endless Murder

Du Bo(杜伯), also known as Heng, was a senior official of the Zhou dynasty. The king’s concubine, Nv Jiu(女鸠), wanted to have an affair with Du Bo, but Du Bo refused. Nv Jiu was angry and one day told the king, “Du Bo is secretly trying to seduce me.” The king believed her and imprisoned Du Bo in Jiaodi. He sent Xuefu(薛甫) and Sikong Qi(司空锜) to kill Du Bo.

Du Bo’s friend, Zuo Ru, tried to persuade the king not to kill Du Bo nine times but failed. Zuo Ru asked, “What crime did Du Bo commit? Wasn’t he an innocent man?” The king then consulted Zhu(祝) for this case.

“Who gave you the idea to kill Du Bo in the first place?” Zhu asked.

“It was Sikong Qi.”The king answered. So Zhu said, “Why don’t you kill Sikong Qi to apologize?” The king then killed Sikong Qi.

But Du Bo still appeared as a ghost and said he was innocent. Sikong Qi also appeared as a ghost and said, “I have done nothing wrong.” The king told Huangfu(皇甫) about this, saying, “Zhu gave me the idea to kill people. Now the people I killed have all appeared as ghosts to accuse me. What should I do?” Huangfu said, “You can only kill Zhu to apologize.”

The king killed Zhu to apologize to the first two men, but it didn’t work. They still appeared as ghosts to find the king. Zhu even said, “How could I have known about the past? Why did you kill me for these crimes?”

Three years later, the king went hunting in the wild. His followers were scattered throughout the mountains. At noon, he saw Du Bo riding a white horse pulling a white carriage. Sikong Qi was guarding him on the left and Zhu was guarding him on the right. They were wearing red hats and riding fast. Du Bo was holding a red bow and a red arrow. He shot the king in the heart and broke his spine. The king fell on his arrow bag and died.

Original story in 《還冤記》:

杜伯名曰恒,入為周大夫。宣王之妾曰女鳩,欲通之,杜伯不可。女鳩訴之宣王曰:「竊與妾交。」宣王信之,囚杜伯於焦,使薛甫與司空锜殺杜伯,其友左儒九諫而王不聽。杜伯既死,為人見王曰:「恒之罪何哉。王召祝,而以杜伯語告,祝曰:「始殺杜伯,誰與王謀之。王曰:「司空锜也。」祝曰:「何以不殺锜以謝之。宣王乃殺锜,使祝以謝之。伯猶為人而至,言其無罪。司空锜又為人而至曰。臣何罪之有。宣王告皇甫曰:「祝也為我謀而殺人,吾殺者又皆為人而見訴,奈何。皇甫曰:「殺祝以謝,可也。」宣王乃殺祝以兼謝焉,又無益,皆為人而至,祝亦曰:「我焉知之,奈何以此為罪而殺臣也。後三年,宣王遊圃田,從人滿野。日中,見杜伯乘白馬素車,司空锜為左,祝為右,朱冠起於道左,執朱弓彤矢,射王中心,折脊,伏於弓衣而死。

🎨 Anonymous《獵騎圖》, in the Ming Dynasty

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