The Love of Life

40. The Soul-Collector Visits

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Chao passed the imperial examinations and earned the rank of Excellent Talent. A kind, honest man, he was careful not to hurt any living creature.

One day he went to visit some relatives. When the ferry he was on reached the middle of the river they were crossing, he noticed somebody standing in the boat. Strange, that looked like a servant of his who had died three years before!

“What are you doing?” Chao asked him.

“I am working for the world of spirits. My job is to collect souls when their time has come,” the dead servant replied. “Today I have three souls to collect.”

“Whose?” Chao asked.

“One of them lives over on that bank, the second is one of the relatives you’re visiting, and the third, the third…”

“Who is the third soul?” Chao asked, but his dead servant wouldn’t answer. Chao knew that the third soul whose time had come was himself.

His dead servant told him not to be afraid. “This evening I won’t go to your place, so everything will be all right.”

“How so?”

“On my way here, I was asked to let you go, because you have been so kind and you haven’t killed anything.”

When Chao got to his relative’s house, he heard the sounds of mourning and weeping. Somebody had died. He turned around and went home. That night, his servant did not come for him. Everything was all right.

Chao lived a long and useful life. He was happy and prosperous because he never killed anything. If you cherish life, you can cherish your own life.


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