Chinese Folktales

43. The Flying Ogre

IN Sian there lived an old Buddhist monk who was fond of roaming through lonely country. On one of his wanderings he came to the Kokonor. There he saw a dead tree which was a thousand feet tall and many yards thick. It was hollow inside so that the light from the sky could be seen falling in from the top.

He had gone on for a few miles when he saw a girl in a red skirt, barefoot and with bare breasts, running up towards him. Her hair trailing behind her, she was running as fast as the wind. In a moment she stood before the monk.

‘Have mercy on me and save my life!’ she called to him.

When the monk asked her What the trouble was she replied: ‘There is a man pursuing me. Tell him you have not seen me and I shall be grateful to you as long as I live’ And with these words she ran towards the tree and crept into it.

The monk continued on his way. Soon he encountered a man on a caparisoned horse. He wore a golden robe. Across his back hung a bow and on his side he wore a sword. The horse galloped like lightning and with each bound it covered two miles. Moving through the air or over the ground made no difference to it.

‘Have you seen a girl in a red skirt?’ the stranger asked him. And When the monk replied that he had not seen anything he continued: ‘Monk, you must not lie! This girl is not a human but a flying ogre. There are thousands of kinds of Ogres and all of them bring ruin to humans. I

have wiped out countless numbers of them and my task is well-nigh finished but this one is the worst. Three times last night I was commanded by the god and have hastened here from heaven. Eight thousands of us have ridden out in all directions to catch this monster. Unless you speak the truth, monk, you sin against heaven.’

Then the monk dared not deceive him any longer and pointed to the hollow tree. The messenger from heaven dismounted, stepped into the tree and looked for the girl. Then he remounted and his horse carried him up through the hollow tree towards its top. The monk looked upwards, and there he saw a red glow escaping from the top of the tree. The heavenly messenger followed it. They rose up towards the clouds and disappeared from sight.

A little while later blood came raining down from the sky. NO doubt the ogre had been hit by an arrow or had been captured.

The monk later related the story to a scholar who wrote it down.