The Love of Life

46. Executed by Eels


In A Record of Wide Love, Meng P’ingan tells this story:

In Suchow, there was a restaurant that specialized in eel noodles. The boss, Tai Tap’an, was a nasty man. He was cruel and selfish. His restaurant was more successful than any of his competitors’ because he thought up a very ingenious way to cook the eels. He lined the inside of the steamers the eels were cooked in with nails, and put the eels in alive. When the steamers were put over the fire, the eels would move around trying to get out, and cut themselves open on the nails. Their blood would go into the noodles, and many customers thought the taste was excellent.

One day Tai was counting up his money on his abacus. He threw his head back and laughed, “Ha, ha, ha! I am getting rich!”

“Papa,” his son, Tai Hsihsin, said, “Let’s go into some other business. It’s too cruel to make money this way, even if we are getting rich.”

“Dummy! What is there to live for besides money? Go on with you. Some other business? What other business can you make so much money in? You kids are full of nonsense.”

One day Tai Tap’an was nowhere to be found. Tai Hsihsin looked everywhere for him. One of his neighbors came running up and said, “We’ve found him! Quick, he’s in the river!”

Tai Hsihsin ran to the bank where all the villagers were standing and looking at the strange sight. Tai Tap’an had been drowned by thousands of eels which held him under water until he died.

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