The Unjust Case in Changle

In Changle County(長樂縣), Fujian Province, there was a woman surnamed Li. At the age of twenty-five, she gave birth to a son. Unfortunately, six months after the birth, her husband passed away. She was determined to raise the orphaned child. In the Li household, there was only a maidservant and an elderly servant. Apart from them, even close relatives rarely visited. The people in the village and surrounding areas who knew her held great respect for her.

When her son turned fifteen, she sent him outside to study under a teacher. One day, as Li was spinning thread and weaving linen in the morning, she suddenly saw a white-clad man standing by the bed. Startled, she scolded him, and the man disappeared behind the bed. Fearful, Li called the maidservant to accompany her in her room.

By noon, when her son returned from outside, they had lunch together. He also saw a white-clad man by the bed, screamed in terror, and the man disappeared again. Li said to her son, “It is said that someone dressed in white is the Bodhisattva of Wealth. This house has been occupied by our ancestors for over a hundred years. Could our ancestors have left behind some gold and silver wealth here?” She and the maidservant then pried open the floor under the bed and found a large blue stone, the size of a square table, underneath. On top of it was a red satin silver bag containing five ingots of silver. Delighted, Li wanted to lift the stone, but lacking strength, she couldn’t. She suggested, “When digging underground treasures, we should first worship the Bodhisattva of Wealth. Son, quickly go to the market and buy offerings for the god, worship him, and then open it.” The son immediately took the silver bag to the market to buy a pig’s head. When the pig’s head was ready, he realized he hadn’t brought money, so he handed the silver bag to the butcher and said, “I coincidentally didn’t bring money, please compensate with these five silver ingots from this bag.” Then he returned with the pig’s head in a cloth bag.

As he passed in front of the county office, a constable followed him and asked, “Young man, what’s inside the bag?” He replied, “It’s a pig’s head.” After repeated questioning, in anger, Li’s son threw the cloth bag on the ground and said, “If it’s not a pig’s head, is it a human head?” As he overturned the bag, indeed, there was a human head, and blood was everywhere. Li’s son was greatly frightened and cried in terror.

The constable took him to the county office. Li’s son explained the situation truthfully, stating that he had bought it from a certain butcher shop. The butcher was also arrested and brought to trial. His confession matched exactly with what Li’s son had said, and the original silver bag was presented. However, when the bailiffs brought it to the court, it was wrapped in red satin, but upon opening, the red satin had turned into blood-stained white cloth, containing five human fingers. The county magistrate was shocked. After re-examining Li’s son based on his confession, he personally went to their home, pried open the large blue stone in the underground storage, only to find a headless male corpse beneath it. The clothes, shoes, all in white, and the right hand with five missing fingers. The human head and five fingers matched the missing parts of the corpse. Despite thorough investigations, no clues about its origin or history were found. Therefore, the butcher and Li’s son were locked up in prison, and the case remains unresolved to this day. This incident occurred in the twenty-eighth year of the Qianlong era.

Translated from《長樂奇冤》in 《子不語》:


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