Bird Cypress by Sun Fangyou ~ 孙方友 《鸟柏》 with English Translations

作品原文

孙方友 《鸟柏》

清朝末年,陈州城出了一宗大案:太昊陵内珍奇的千年鸟柏被盗。
陈州太昊陵,唐宋以来不断扩建。宋太祖赵匡胤于建隆元年亲自颁发“修陵奉祀诏”,大事建筑,历时数载,终使太昊陵雄伟壮丽,金碧辉煌。陵前陵后,古柏参天,苍松翳日。而这古柏之中,有一株千年鸟柏。鸟柏,为世间珍奇。据传,若用此柏做堂器,块块板上能显出鸟状,而且千姿百态,呼之欲出。因而,用鸟柏制出的器物,也就成了无价之宝。
这株鸟柏生长在伏羲陵后,两个人合围不搭手。鸟柏被盗的时间正值太昊陵古会期间,朝祖进香者无数。这一日,来了一位江南船家,自称是前来还愿,带来了一百根又高又直的杉木,全部竖在了鸟柏的周围。因为是香客还愿,庙院住持没起疑心。不料一个月过后,突然见鸟柏枯萎。待挪开杉木,才看到鸟柏的树冠是由杉木支撑,而价值连城的树身早已被人盗去了。
案报县衙,陈州知县宋士元十分惊慌,连夜侦破,终于擒拿了盗贼。盗贼一共五人,为首的叫何七。等拿到赃物,鸟柏早在盗时就被截了两截儿,而且拉成了木板。细看木板,果真是块块有飞鸟形状,而且香气扑鼻,实属世间罕见珍宝!
宋士元命人把盗贼押到县衙,挨个儿审讯。盗贼们个个供认不讳,说是早已对鸟柏垂涎,便化装成香客,专买了杉木做掩护,人躲在里边好做手脚。树大不好运,便分段拉成木板,盗了出来。
既然罪犯供认不讳,也就无甚好说,只好押进大牢里。不料到了夜间,五名罪犯企图越狱潜逃,全被狱卒们杀死了。人死物在,活案变成了死案。好在有罪犯们的口供,卷宗里又有盗贼们的指押,宋士元向州府呈过公文之后,让人掩埋了盗贼。
第二天,宋士元便把鸟柏作价,给女儿做了嫁妆。
上头批示的公文还未到,宋知县为女儿打制的嫁妆却已做好。没想这时候,知府大人来了。
知府大人先看了看宋士元用鸟柏为女儿做的嫁妆,然后召宋士元进了密室。知府大人望了宋知县一眼,笑道:“大人为得鸟柏,可真费了不少心机呀!”
宋士元一听,大惊失色,半天没说出话来。
知府笑着从袖筒里掏出一封书信,说:“何七也不是等闲之辈,事成那天,曾派人给我送过一封密信,为顾朋友之情,我没捅出去!”
宋士元面如土色,急忙叩头谢恩。
第二天,宋士元便把做好的嫁妆悄悄送进了州府里……
没想事过不久,宋士元突然被投入大牢。由于证据确凿,他三天之后便被斩首了。

 

 

作品译文

 

Bird Cypress
Sun Fangyou

Near the end of the Qing Dynasty in the state capital of Chen there occurred a big and strange case of crime: The thousand-year-old bird cypress in the Mausoleum of Tai Hao was stolen.
The Mausoleum of Tai Hao in the State of Chen underwent significant expansion during the Dynasties of Tang and Song. Upon establishing the Song Dynasty the First Emperor Zhao Kuangyin issued an imperial decree to expand the mausoleum, a massive project which took many years to complete. The newly expanded Mausoleum of Tai Hao shone magnificently in the midst of tall pines and ancient cypresses. Among the cypresses was a thousand-year-old bird cypress. The bird cypress is a most rare and precious tree in the world. It is said that furniture made of bird cypress boards would show vivid bird-like patterns, so vivid as if the birds were ready to fly into the sky. Therefore, furniture and artifacts made of bird cypress are priceless.
This particular bird cypress stood right behind the Mausoleum of Fuxi and was so thick that even two men could not encircle it. The theft happened during a holiday celebration at the Mausoleum of Tai Hao when countless pilgrims came to seek blessings. One day there came a shipping magnate from the South. To show gratitude for his good fortune, the man said, he had brought with him 100 tall and arrow-straight cedar trees. All of these trees he set up around the thousand-year bird cypress. Since it was a unique way of a pilgrim showing his gratitude for his blessings, the Chief Monk didn’t suspect anything. About a month later someone noticed, accidentally, that the bird cypress had withered. When the cedars were removed, it became apparent that the cypress’ top had been supported by the cedars, its precious, priceless trunk had been stolen.
When the crime was reported to the county court, County Magistrate Song Shiyuan was shocked. He led a team to work on the case day and night and soon took the thieves into custody. There were five of them, their leader being a he Seven. The bird cypress, evidence of their crime, had already been cut into two halves and sawed into boards. Each board, when looked at closely, had a bird-like pattern, and breathed such a fragrant aroma. It was rare, precious treasure indeed!
Song Shiyuan had the thieves escorted to the county court and interrogated one by one. All of the thieves confessed. They had had their eyes on the third cypress for a long time. During the holy holiday they disguised as pilgrims and used the cedars they had bought as cover. To make it easier to transport the bird cypress, they sawed it into sections and then boards.
With both confessions and evidences, there was nothing else left to do but to throw the thieves into jail. In the middle of night, however, the five men were all killed by the prison guards when they attempted to escape. Now with the suspects dead, the case went dead with them, too. Fortunately, all the suspects had attested their confessions with their fingerprints. So, Song Shiyuan submitted the case file to the state government and had the bodies of the thieves buried.
The following day Song Shiyuan had the bird cypress boards appraised and paid to make furniture as dowry for his daughter.
And the bird cypress furniture had already been made before the final word on the case came. Then, to everyone’s surprise, the State Governor himself came.
Having taking a look at the bird cypress furniture Song Shiyuan had made for his daughter, the State Governor called Song Shiyuan in a well-guarded room. He shot a glance at Song Shiyuan and said, with a smile on his face: “Much painstaking planning must have gone into it, for the County Magistrate to obtain the bird cypress, right?”
Song Shiyuan was stunned and at a loss what to say.
The State Governor too out a letter from his long sleeves and said: “He Seven was anything but a moron. The day they succeeded in stealing the tree, he sent me a sealed secret letter. It was only on account of our friendship that I didn’t make it public!”
Song Shiyuan, face ashen, fell on his knees right away to thank the State Governor.
The following day, without anybody noticing it, Song Shiyuan was arrested and thrown into jail. Since she evidence against him was rock-solid, he was beheaded three days later.

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