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》:


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