Lee-ming and the Snail


There was once a scholar called Lee-ming who lived in Keelung. He went to Tainan to take an exam, but he didn't pass the exam and had to go home. Along the way home, he decided to take a rest under a tree. He saw a snail crawl out of its shell to lay eggs in the water. Its shell was very light and the wind blew it away. Lee-ming picked up the shell and returned it to the snail. To his amazement, the snail left a string of words on the field embankment. “Don't stop at Guei-Chiao, don't take a bath if your hands are oily. A fly rests on the tip of a pen, A-Kun Huang of Badu is the one you seek.” Lee-ming memorized these words and went on his way.

In the evening, Lee-ming arrived at Guei-Chiao village. He remembered what the snail told him, and did not stop to rest. He stopped at the next village instead. As Lee-ming ate breakfast the next morning, he heard the innkeeper say, “There was a flash flood at Guei-Chiao village last night. No one made it out alive.” Lee-ming thought to himself, “The snail saved my life!”

When he got to Wudu village, he was only twenty kilometers from home. But it was getting dark and Lee-ming felt tired and dirty. So, he decided to find a place to spend the night and set off for home the next day. The innkeeper's assistant said, “My boss usually takes a bath during this hour, but since he is busy today, you can bath first!”

While he was in the bathroom, Lee-ming accidentally knocked over the oil lamp as he was taking off his clothes. His hands were covered in oil. Suddenly, he remembered what the snail told him, “Don't take a bath if your hands are oily”. So, he quickly got out of the bathroom and told the innkeeper's assistant, “I don't think I'll take a bath tonight.” The wife of the innkeeper happened to pass by and heard what Lee-ming said. She didn't want to waste the hot water, so she decided to bath in the dark. Later on, the innkeeper found his wife lying dead on the floor with a hole in her head.

Lee-ming was suspected of murder, but when the magistrate raised his pen to sentence Lee-ming to death, A fly rested on the tip of his pen. The magistrate chased the fly away three times, but it always flew back. The magistrate sensed something was wrong, and Lee-ming quickly told the magistrate what happened, including what the snail told him. The magistrate sent his men to Badu, and sure enough, they caught a butcher by the name of A-Kun Huang. The butcher confessed that he secretly loved the innkeeper's wife, and that he planned to kill the innkeeper that night. But the bathroom was dark and he killed the innkeeper's wife by mistake. Upon hearing this, the magistrate set Lee-ming free.