Bear Writing

In the twenty-sixth year of the Qianlong era, there was a beggar in Huqiu who raised a large bear, the size of a Sichuan horse, with fur as straight and dense as arrows. This bear could write and compose poems but could not speak. Those who wished to visit were allowed to watch for a fee of one wen. If you brought white paper and asked the bear to write, it would use large characters to write a Tang poem, demanding a fee of one hundred coins.

One day, the beggar went out, leaving the bear alone. People came to watch, and one person gave it paper, asking it to write. The bear wrote, ‘I am a private school teacher in the countryside of Changsha, teaching children to read. When I was young, I was captured by this beggar and his accomplices. They drugged me, making me unable to speak. They first raised a bear at home, stripped me of my clothes, tied me up, and pierced me all over with needles until I bled profusely. While my blood was still warm, they killed the bear, skinned it, and wrapped its fur around me. Human blood and bear blood stuck together, firmly adhering, never to be removed. Later, they used iron chains to deceive people, and I have earned tens of thousands of coins till now.’ After finishing, the bear pointed to its mouth, and tears flowed like rain. The crowd was shocked and quickly apprehended the beggar, handing him over to the authorities. According to the laws of mutilation, the beggar was immediately beaten to death with a cane. Then the ‘bear’ was escorted to Changsha and returned to its rightful family.

I say: In the year of Jiwei, a certain official in the capital raped a servant girl, who bit off his tongue. Mongolian doctors were called to treat him, instructing people to kill a dog, remove its tongue, and set it with hot blood onto the official’s tongue. He was warned not to go out for a hundred days. Later, the official appeared at court to report as usual, showing no difference from before. During the Yuan Dynasty, a general stormed into the enemy’s camp, covered in wounds from knives and arrows, bleeding profusely and seemingly lifeless. A physician ordered the killing of a horse, opened its belly, lifted the general, and had him sleep inside the horse’s belly, with dozens of people shaking it. After a meal’s time, the general, covered in blood, stood up. The principles behind these examples and the fabricated bear are the same.

Translated from《狗熊寫字》in 《子不語》: