Ancient Chinese Stories: Not Killing Cures an Ancestral Deformity

How two geese changed a family's future

What does an ancient Chinese remedy for eye disease have to do with a pair of wild geese? ((Robin Mathlener / Unsplash)
What does an ancient Chinese remedy for eye disease have to do with a pair of wild geese? ((Robin Mathlener / Unsplash)
By Anonymous

Near the end of the Qing Dynasty, there was a village in Northeast China where a family surnamed Xing lived. The Xing family was famous for two reasons. The first was that they had a secret ancestral remedy for eye disease; whoever had eye disease went to the Xing household to receive the remedy and the disease was quickly cured. The second reason was that the left eye of all the men of the Xing family had no pupil and could see nothing. They did not know for how many generations the men in their family had been like that. They only took it as an inherited trait.

At that time, Lao (“Old”) Xing was 40 years old and, of course, his left eye was blind, as were his father’s and son’s left eyes. What was the relationship between the secret ancestral remedy and the ancestral deformity? The Xing family never thought about it, and people who knew them also did not think about it.

In the fall of that year, eye diseases were being contracted more and more. Lao Xing made a lot of money. One of the ingredients in the ancestral remedy was the liver of a wild goose. Lao Xing bought a wild goose, tied one of its legs with a rope, and fastened the rope in the yard, in preparation for removing the goose’s liver. At this moment, another goose came flying over and circled the yard, giving a miserable howling noise. The goose tied in the yard struggled and also let out a miserable howling noise. The goose in the sky quickly landed in the yard and desperately pecked with its beak at the rope tied to the other wild goose’s leg. The goose tied up also pecked at its own leg. Just a little while later, the rope was broken through and both of them flew away. All that was left was a rope tied to half of a goose’s leg.

Lao Xing saw this scene and did not know what to do; he felt terrible. He then quickly burned the instructions for the ancestral remedy. From then on, he did not treat eye disease anymore.

A few years later, he had a grandson and, starting with this grandson, the family deformity of having no pupil in one eye stopped. His grandson had two pupils, and the Xing family members never had only one pupil again.

Translated by Dora Li into English, this story is reprinted with permission from the book “Treasured Tales of China,” Vol. 1, available on Amazon. 

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