The Love of Life

67. Try Some Beef ?


Noon on April 10, 1820. Dark clouds covered the sun. Suddenly, the clouds burst and rain poured down out of the heavens. Thunder and lightning filled the sky. Pedestrians scattered, seeking shelter.

One of them dropped to his knees with a shriek. He had been struck by lightning! He was still alive, but burned. The smell of roasting flesh filled the air. He curled up in agony. His whole body shook, and tears fell from his eyes.

In moments, maggots crawled onto his scorched flesh. The man opened his eyes and looked at his sore, wounded body, with his flesh hanging in shreds. He pulled off a piece and stuffed it in his mouth. The onlookers were aghast.

His neighbors tried to stop him. “Fan Tengshan! Don’t you know what you’re doing? Stop that!”

“Mmm, delicious beef,” he told them. “Delicious beef. Try some?”

By this time, most of the onlookers were either fainting or throwing up. Some of the hardier ones called his family and they took him home.

He did not die right away. He lingered for several months. By the time he died, there was little flesh left on his bones.

A little girl who lived next door asked her mother, “I know Mr. Fan was mean and used to quarrel with everyone. He was always picking fights with people. But why did he die so terribly?”

Her mother explained, “Fan Tengshan was a famous butcher from Taohsi. He always said he was a butcher because he liked to eat beef so much.

“He used to sit in his butcher’s store eating beef, telling his customers, ‘Delicious beef. Try some?'”

“He was rich, wasn’t he?” the little girl asked.

“Yes, very rich. He used to brag that he would make lots and lots of money. He said he would never be poor as long as there were cows to kill.

“So what good did all his money do him? If he had been kinder, this wouldn’t have happened to him.”

“Is that why we never eat meat, Mother?” the little girl asked.

“Yes, because I certainly wouldn’t want anything like that to happen to any of us. So I don’t cause any animals harm. That is the best way to keep out of harm’s way.”

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