THE former magistrate of Quelpart, Kim Su-ik, lived inside of the South Gate of Seoul. When he was young it was his habit to study Chinese daily until late at night. Once, when feeling hungry, he called for his wife to bring him something to eat.
The wife replied, "We have nothing in the house except seven or eight chestnuts. Shall I roast these and bring them to you?"
Kim replied, "Good; bring them."
The servants were asleep, and there was no one on hand to answer a call, so the wife went to the kitchen, made a fire and cooked them herself. Kim waited, meanwhile, for her to come.
After a little while she brought them in a handbasket, cooked and ready served for him. Kim ate and enjoyed them much. Meanwhile she sat before his desk and waited. Suddenly the door opened, and another person entered. Kim raised his eyes to see, and there was the exact duplicate of his wife, with a basket in her hand and roasted chestnuts. As he looked at both of them beneath the light the two women were perfect facsimiles of each other. The two also looked back and forth in alarm, saying, "What's this that's happened? Who are you?"
Kim once again received the roasted nuts, laid them down, and then took firm hold of each woman, the first one by the right hand and the second by the left, holding fast till the break of day.
At last the cocks crew, and the east began to lighten. The one whose right hand he held, said, "Why do you hold me so? It hurts; let me go." She shook and tugged, but Kim held all the tighter. In a little, after struggling, she fell to the floor and suddenly changed into a wild cat. Kim, in fear and surprise, let her go, and she made her escape through the door. What a pity that he did not make the beast fast for good and all!
Kim Su-ik was a native of Seoul who matriculated in 1624 and graduated in 1630. In 1636, when the King made his escape to Nam-han from the invading Manchu army, Kim Su-ik accompanied him. He opposed any yielding to China or any treaty with them, but because his counsel was not received he withdrew from public life.
Tong Chung-so was a Chinaman of great note. He once desired to give himself up to study, and did not go out of his room for three years. During this time a young man one day called on him, and while he stood waiting said to himself, "It will rain to-day." Tong replied at once, "If you are not a fox you are a wild cat--out of this," and the man at once ran away. How he came to know this was from the words, "Birds that live in the trees know when the wind will blow; beasts that live in the ground know when it is going to rain." The wild cat unconsciously told on himself.
Note by the writer.--Foxes turning into women and deceiving people is told of in Kwang-keui and other Chinese novels, but the wild cat's transformation is more wonderful still, and something that I have never heard of. By what law do creatures like foxes and wild cats so change? I am unable to find any law that governs it. Some say that the fox carries a magic charm by which it does these magic things, but can this account for the wild cat?
Wild-Cat Woman, The
Korean Folk Tales: Imps, Ghosts and Fairies
Bang, Im & Ryuk, Yi
E. P. Dutton & Co.
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