Debt Repaid

In Luoyang’s Shuilu Temple, there was a monk named Da Le, who was quite wealthy. His neighbor, surnamed Zhou, worked in the government office and was very poor. The supervisor of his post often extorted money when collecting taxes, taking advantage whenever possible. Whenever it was time to turn in the collected sum, Zhou would frequently borrow money from Monk Da Le to make up the shortfall. Over a span of a few years, he ended up owing the monk a total of seven taels of silver. Knowing Zhou was unable to repay, the monk did not ask for the money.

Zhou was deeply grateful and always said to the monk, ‘I cannot repay your kindness in this life, but I will surely repay it even if I become a donkey in the afterlife.’

Not long after, one night, the monk suddenly heard someone urgently knocking on the temple door, claiming to be Zhou from next door, coming to repay his debt to the monk. The monk opened the door but found nobody there, assuming it was a prank. However, that very night, the donkey that the monk raised gave birth to a foal. The following morning, the monk went to check on neighbor Zhou and discovered that he had passed away. Approaching the newborn donkey, it lifted its head and kicked its legs, seemingly recognizing the monk.

Later on, as the young donkey grew, the monk used it as his mount for a year. One day, a traveler from Shanxi stayed at the Shuilu Temple and greatly admired the young donkey, expressing a desire to purchase it. The monk refused but was hesitant to explain the reason. The Shanxi traveler then proposed, ‘If you won’t sell it, could I borrow this donkey to ride to a certain county for just one night?’ The monk agreed. The traveler, upon mounting the donkey and holding its reins, smilingly said to the monk, ‘I have deceived you. If I like this donkey, once I ride away, I might not return. I have calculated the price and placed the money for the purchase on your table. You can go and retrieve it.’ Having said this, the traveler hastily departed without looking back. The monk was helpless in this situation. Upon returning to his room, he found seven taels of white silver on the table, precisely the amount that Zhou owed him.

Original text in 《大樂上人》 from 《子不語》:


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