Good Bye, My Concubine

Cui Shensi(崔慎思), a man from Boling(博陵). During the mid-reign of Emperor Dezong in the Tang Dynasty, he participated in the imperial exams. Without a residence in the capital, he rented a small courtyard. The landlady, a woman in her thirties without a husband, lived there with two maids. Cui Shensi wanted to marry the woman, but she said, ‘I am not a scholar; we are not suitable. You will regret this.’ Cui Shensi then proposed to make her his concubine, and she agreed. However, she never revealed her name, so Cui took her as his concubine.

For over two years, she never showed dissatisfaction. Later, she bore a son. One night, while Cui was sleeping behind closed doors, she disappeared. Distraught, Cui suspected infidelity and became furious. He got up and paced in the moonlit courtyard.

Suddenly, he saw her coming down from the roof. She wore a white sash around her waist, held a dagger in her right hand, and carried a severed head in her left. She told Cui Shensi that her father had been innocently killed by a local official years ago. She came to the city for revenge but had failed for years. Finally, she had avenged her father and had to leave.

After arranging her clothes, she gave Cui the house, the two maids, and their child, saying, ‘I have been your concubine for two years and given birth to a child. I bought this house and the maids myself. Now, I give them to you. Please take care of our child.’ She left, swiftly leaping over walls. Cui was greatly amazed.

Soon after, she returned, realizing she had forgotten to breastfeed the child. She entered the house and, after a while, came out saying, ‘I have fed the child.’ Then she left forever. After a long time without hearing the baby cry, Cui entered the house and found the child dead. She had killed the child to end her affectionate attachment. Few ancient heroes could surpass her.

Original text in 《原化記》:

博陵崔慎思,唐貞元中應進士舉。京中無第宅,常賃人隙院居止。而主人別在一院,都無丈夫。有少婦年三十餘。窺之亦有容色,唯有二女奴焉。慎思遂遣通意,求納為妻。婦人曰。我非仕人,與君不敵,不可為他時恨也。求以為妾,許之,而不肯言其姓。慎思遂納之。二年餘。崔所取給,婦人無倦色。後產一子,數月矣,時夜,崔寢,及閉戶垂帷,而已半夜,忽失其婦。崔驚之,意其有奸,頗發忿怒。遂起。堂前旁徨而行。時月朧明,忽見其婦自屋而下,以白練纏身,其右手持匕首,左手攜一人頭。言其父昔枉為郡守所殺,入城求報,已數年矣,未得;今既克矣,不可久留,請從此辭。遂更結束其身,以灰囊盛人首攜之。謂崔曰。某幸得為君妾二年,而已有一子。宅及二婢皆自致,並以奉贈,養育孩子。言訖而別。遂逾墻越舍而去。慎思驚嘆未已。少頃卻至,曰。適去,忘哺孩子少乳。遂入室。良久而出曰。餵兒已畢,便永去矣。慎思久之,怪不聞嬰兒啼。視之,已為其所殺矣。殺其子者,以絕其念也。古之俠莫能過焉。

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