ChinaThe murder of an adulterous woman’s husband has been implicated in a series of unjust crimes and the truth is only revealed thanks to the cunning thief.
At the end of the third year of Dien Huu (1314-1320), the reign of Emperor Nguyen Nhan Tong, when the house was busy with preparations to welcome the New Year, it was also a time of rampant theft.
One night, a thief broke into the neighbor’s house, a woman who had lost her husband for more than two years. He took advantage when it was getting dark, hid in the corner of the wall outside the room, planning to wait for the owner to fall asleep and then go in and steal. But he didn’t expect there to be a knock on the door.
The widow rushed to open the door, bringing a drunk man into the room. The thief wet his fingers, poked holes in the window paper, looked inside, saw the man shouting loudly, beating the widow, and then fell asleep. She did not dare to protest, only cried: “More than two years ago, I killed my husband because of you, and hid the body under the fireplace. Now this heating bed can’t be reused, dare not bury it, and I don’t know. The body is completely destroyed, and you have come back to torment me.”
Hearing that, the thief froze. Everyone knows her husband was murdered, but the person who was convicted by the government is someone else, now he says the real killer is himself, the body is still hidden in the house. Knowing this secret, the thief suddenly had a chance to make a fortune, not bothering to steal anymore, but jumped over the wall and left.
The next day, the thief broke into a carpentry workshop with hundreds of workers in the capital, saying he wanted to sell information for a bonus. The carpenters here are offering great rewards for clues to the case that led to the foreman’s execution a year ago.
Not believing the thief, everyone decided to pay him half of the money in advance and will pay the rest after the truth is clarified.
That same day, the thief led the people to the front of the widow’s house, watching him from afar. He pretended to be drunk and entered the room to tease. When she shouted, neighbors ran to scold her, demanding to beat the thief. He jumped on the heating bed, hastily turned over the mat, flipped the bricks, pretending to fight.
When the brick bed was lifted, a pile of white bones underneath suddenly appeared in front of everyone, the widow fell to the ground in panic. The group of workers waiting outside the door also rushed in, together to flip the heating bed, revealing the whole body.
The widow was taken to the government and confessed to the truth.
Accordingly, more than two years ago, at the carpentry workshop, the foreman surnamed Vuong had a conflict with a worker surnamed Truong (the widow’s husband). Although weak, Vuong was afraid to lose face, so he refused to admit his mistake, the two immediately broke off communication. Dissatisfied with the foreman, Truong suffered a lot of pressure during six months at the factory.
At the end of the year, everyone in the factory contributed money to buy wine and food, and dragged Truong to the foreman’s house for dinner to ease the relationship. All of them talked openly, drank alcohol happily, reconciled, and left drunk until late at night.
Truong was helped by his wife to enter the house and put him on the bed to rest. Then, she suddenly put the blanket over her husband’s head. The drunk man had no resistance, the victim suffocated.
Truong’s wife has been secretly having an affair for a long time, and many times discussed with her lover how to kill her husband to be comfortable together. That night, seeing that her husband was drunk, she asked to know that he was drinking with the enemy, she immediately thought this was a good opportunity…
Early the next morning, the wife went everywhere saying her husband did not return all night. The people in the workshop told the story of last night, the foreman said that her husband had finished drinking and returned home. But she cried out in disbelief, ran away and accused the foreman of killing her husband for private revenge.
Manager Wang was quickly arrested by the government. In prison, he was beaten and tortured until he couldn’t stand it, admitting to killing Truong. But Wang could not reveal where the body was. With no other way, Vuong made up the story that he threw the body into the river in the city. This lie caused two translators to be sent to find the miserable body, which took several days without results.
At this time, the case was reported to the officials in charge of policing in the capital. The places attach great importance to this case, urging it to be resolved as soon as possible. Pressure from superiors caused the government to extend the time for the two epidemics to be found for 10 days to be sentenced, or else they would be whipped.
The 10-day period has passed, and the two have not yet found the body. They were extended 7 days, 5 days, then three days, still no results. During that time, they received four canings.
Afraid of being beaten to death, the two men came up with a plan to use another body instead, through the eyes of the superior. As they walked along the riverbank at nightfall, they saw an old man riding a donkey crossing a nearby bridge. When there was no one around, the two ran to push the old man into the water, leaving him to drown. The donkey was threatened to run away.
The two men endured a few more days of whipping, waiting for the unrecognizable rotting body to report. However, they are still afraid of being discovered by the victim’s wife. However, when the official called for identification, the wife immediately burst into tears, claiming that this was her husband. Then she sold the jewelry, hastily buried.
As for the old man’s family members who rode a donkey and waited all night without seeing him, they split up to look for it for a few days. As they were impatient, they suddenly saw a passerby wearing a donkey skin coat, very similar to the color of the donkey they raised.
Suspicious family rushed to snatch the donkey’s skin from the man, just opened it to find the blood stain under the fur that was not completely dry, obviously the donkey had just been killed. When questioned, the man hesitated to answer where the donkey skin came from, then said he had seen a donkey running around on the road, but no one believed it.
His family took him to the government. Under torture, he admitted to robbing, the old man resisted and killed him. However, he could not say where the body was, changed his testimony many times, was beaten repeatedly until his health was exhausted and died in prison, the case had to be ended.
A year later, the case file of the worker surnamed Truong was approved, the court decided to execute the foreman Vuong. On the day of the execution, the workers who drank together that day cried and complained for him, but in the end, the verdict could not be changed.
Some workers are not willing, invite each other to contribute 100 bills, offer great rewards for clues. It wasn’t until a year later that they learned the truth from the thief.
The government revised the sentence, dismissed the officials who had wrongly convicted foreman Vuong, sentenced to behead the two servicemen who killed the body, the widow and the lover were executed. As for the man who died unjustly in prison, there was no one willing to step forward to help clean up the wrongdoing, in the end the case was pressed down to avoid involving more mandarins.
This series of wrongful convictions that caused outrage in the capital of Dai Do was recorded by Song Ban as a story Dungeon in the work Politics episode to warn the next life. This case was later introduced in Collection of novels by Nguyen Minh Thanh (1984).
Tong Ban (1281-1334) used to be an official of the Xie sage, scholar and Quoc Tu Giam Teu, under the Nguyen Dynasty in the context of socio-economic recession and political turmoil.
Tue Anh (Follow 163)