In the maternal family of Fa Jiasun(法嘉蓀)’s grandmother, there was a nephew named Sun who was a wealthy man in the local area. In the early Qing Dynasty, piracy was rampant along the coastal areas, so Sun moved his family to Jintan(金壇). One day, an old man surnamed Hu, accompanied by dozens of descendants and servants, along with some valuable luggage, passed by Sun’s house. The old man claimed to be from Shanxi(山西) and, due to the chaos of war, couldn’t proceed further, requesting to borrow an empty room in Sun’s house for temporary residence. Sun, judging from the old man’s demeanor and speech, realized that they were not ordinary passersby, so he offered them an empty room and allowed them to stay.
With leisure time on his hands, Sun often engaged in casual conversations with the old man. Sun noticed that in the old man’s study, there were musical instruments, swords, and books. The books he read included classics such as the “Yellow Court Classic(《黃庭》)” and the “Dao De Jing《道德》.” The old man also spoke words from texts like the “Heart Nature(《心性》)” and the “Analects of Zhu Xi.(《語錄》)” The old man was strict in disciplining his descendants and servants, rarely smiling, and maintaining a serious demeanor. However, the people in Sun’s household believed that they were a group of fox spirits and secretly referred to the old man as the master of Fox Daoism.
In Sun’s house, there was a young maidservant who was quite attractive. One day, this maidservant encountered one of the old man’s grandsons in a narrow alley, and suddenly, he embraced her. The maidservant resisted, struggled to break free, and reported the incident to the old man. The old man comforted her, saying, “Don’t be angry; I will definitely discipline him properly.”
The next day, nearing noon, the old man still kept his door tightly closed. Sun sent someone to knock on the door, but there was no response. Helpless, they had to instruct someone to climb over the wall and open the door. Upon inspection, the house was empty, with thirty taels of silver left on the study table. Next to it was a piece of paper with the words “rental fee” written on it. Under the steps, they discovered the lifeless body of a fox that had been strangled.
Fa Jiasun(法嘉蓀) sighed and said, “This old man is truly a genuine Daoist. A righteous person must first be righteous in their own conduct. He killed his misbehaving grandson. Nowadays, there are many officials who talk big about Cheng-Zhu Confucianism(程朱理學), appearing upright, but behind the scenes, they resort to all means to gain advantages. Compared to the old fox, these people fall far behind!”
Translated from《狐道學》in 《子不語》: