Beans with Faces

Vivi Dai October 21, 2021
Add to FAVs

Sign in to add a tale to your list of favorites


Already a member? Sign in. Or Create a free Fairytalez account in less than a minute.

Download PDF

The sun was setting over the mountains, the full moon was rising in the sky, and a doctor was rushing along the narrow winding road. On the left of the road was a crystal stream. The moonlight was interwoven with the water, giving off a dazzling white glow. On the right was a deep forest. From time to time you could see blooming oleanders, the bloody red flowers at their peak yet showing the first signs of decay.
This familiar scene triggered strong waves of nostalgia in the doctor’s heart. Bathed in the bright moonlight, he followed the old path of his memories and hurried through the forest. Just over one more hill, he could see his hometown again after ten years. When he was young, he left home to improve his medical skills in a far eastern country. Now that he had succeeded in his studies, he could help his people and save them from illness and suffering.
At this moment, sounds of despondent crying suddenly broke the silence. The doctor was startled and stopped to listen carefully. The vague yet harrowing sounds of crying coming from a distance, gave him a sense of dread.
Could it be coming from his hometown? It sounded like someone had just died and the person’s loved ones were crying mournfully. No, maybe the person was not yet dead. Maybe he could save that life!
With a heavy bag on his back, the doctor began to run, jumping over fallen branches, waking the sleeping forest animals, destroying countless oleander flowers in his path, until finally arriving at the village.
Although it was only a small village, in the doctor’s memory it had always been lively and bustling. On warm spring nights like this, the villagers had always worn stylish hats and colorful clothes, left their doors wide open, and chatted together in the street lit with lanterns. However, the streets were quiet and empty tonight, filled with an unusually depressing atmosphere. The cries were getting louder and louder and came from every single house. Women’s sobbing, men’s howling, children’s whimpering, and old men’s moaning were all tangled together endlessly.
In a great panic, the doctor ran to his parents’ house. As he remembered, two old pine trees still stood in the front yard, but the house was in disrepair, and weeds had taken over and covered the roof. He was heartbroken and hurried to knock on the door. A moment later, an old woman walked out trembling. Her bloodless face was covered with a thin layer of dark yellow skin, and her body was as hunched and bony as a withered bent bamboo stick.
“Mother!” The doctor fell to his knees, overwhelmed with a mixture of joy and grief.
“Oh my God, is it Shen?” His mother thought she was dreaming and stood there for a moment in shock.
“It’s me, it’s me!” the doctor hugged his mother tightly.
Finally recovering from her shock, the mother grabbed her son’s shoulders with both hands, and cried out loud, “You are back!”
Then the mother took her son’s hand and hurried into the room, “Quick, come and see your father for the last time. If you had arrived one minute later, I am afraid you would never have seen him again.”
The doctor was appalled and followed his mother to the bedroom. His father was lying on the bed in the dimly lit room, his face blue, his lips dry and waxy, his eyelids lead grey, and his head sticking straight up as if it were trying to escape from his body.
The doctor’s heart was torn into two. He threw himself on the bed and cried out in grief, “Father, father!”
Hearing his son’s call, the father opened his eyes slightly and looked at him with trembling lips. Tears silently fell down his cheeks.
Realizing that this was the last chance to save his father’s life, the doctor instantly pulled himself together. At this moment, he was no longer a grieving son, but a doctor who would do everything he could to save a life from the hands of death.
He examined his father’s body quickly and found two purple pustules the size of a coin on both sides of his neck. The pustules were hot and had many tiny black spots on the surface.
“Mother, was father exposed to wild animals before falling sick?”
“Any fur products?”
His mother thought for a while.
“Oh, yes, two merchants came to our village, selling some well-made fur hats with splendid colors. I bought one for your father, and he fell ill not long after that.”
“That’s right,” the doctor nodded. “If I’m not mistaken, the disease is from the poison of an insect, which originated in the Far East. Three years ago, some hunters there accidentally found some wild beaver in remote wetlands. Those beaver had unusually colorful fur, which had become popular in the market. So the locals hunted them and used their fur to make scarves, hats, and gloves. I had no idea that it was even sold here……That fur is home to a rare type of insect which is invisible to the naked eye and can survive extreme conditions. Once coming in contact with human skin, it will enter the body through the pores and lay eggs in the lymph nodes. The pustules are caused by their deadly poison.”
“Can you save your father?” a ray of hope appeared in his mother’s eyes .
“When this disease broke out in the Far East, my teacher taught me how to make a special ointment to treat patients. Luckily, I have all the necessary herbs in my bag. Mother, please light the stove and get a small copper pot.”
The doctor opened his bag, took out several packages of herbs, and mixed them in proportion. He then put them in the copper pot brought by his mother and slowly heated them. The herbs soon turned into a sticky red ointment. Then he took out a silver needle and stabbed it into the pustules on his father’s neck. After the foul-smelling pus had drained, he carefully applied a thick layer of the red ointment to the affected area. Strangely enough, his father soon stopped moaning and fell into a quiet sleep.
The doctor felt a little relieved and turned to his mother, “Mother, let me examine you to make sure that you are OK.”
As he suspected, his mother also had two pustules on her neck, so he treated her in the same way. Then he helped his mother lie down in bed and said, “When I was on my way home, I heard crying from every house.”
His mother was a little drowsy under the effect of the ointment and answered faintly, “No family has been spared.”
“Then I need to treat people immediately,” the doctor stood up, but his mother tugged on the corner of his coat, with a concerned expression on her face.
The doctor smiled and reassured his mother, “Don’t worry, I know how to protect myself. You have taught me since I was a child that saving a life is better than building a seven-level pagoda. As a doctor, how can I stay at home, leaving all the villagers in the hands of death?”
His mother smiled weakly, released her hand, and said in a loving tone as if she were speaking to a small child, “Go and return quickly, we will wait for you at home. Tomorrow morning, I will make your favorite cinnamon dumplings, okay?”
“Great! Then I have to come back early.”
The doctor smiled tearfully, got up, took the ointment and medical tools, and went from house to house to treat the sick. Everywhere he went, there was not a single family whose faces were not soaked with tears of despair, but with the doctor’s appearance, they were instantly flooded with incredible hope and happiness.
Ah, ten years of hard training finally paid off! As the doctor treated the sick and saved lives, seeing their smiling faces of gratitude, he felt an indescribable sense of joy and satisfaction. He said to himself, “I can’t imagine what would have happened had I arrived even one day later. The consequences would have been unbearable!”
The doctor visited every house in the village without rest. When He finally returned home just before dawn, He was so exhausted that he couldn’t even lift his legs over the threshold of the door. Collapsing in the doorway, he immediately fell into a deep sleep.
When he woke up, it was already midday. In the bright sunlight, he got to his feet and was surprised to find that he was surrounded by abandoned houses, tall weeds that reached a man’s waist and countless graves.
“Am I dreaming?” the doctor muttered. “No, it’s not a dream! I came home last night and my mother said she was going to cook me cinnamon dumplings!”
He shouted in a frightened voice, “Mother! Father!”
“Hey, what are you doing there?” someone suddenly asked the doctor in a loud voice. The doctor looked up and saw five young men standing close together about twenty meters away, looking at him with fear.
“I’m from Spring Village. I just came home from abroad last night, but I don’t know how I woke up in this graveyard.”
The young men looked at each other with blank faces, “This is Spring Village, only it has been deserted for a long time.”
“The villagers all got sick and died one year ago.”
The doctor was completely confused and started trembling.
“No, it’s impossible…”
“It’s true. One year ago, a terrible plague broke out here, and people began to die from the disease after just four or five days. To prevent the spread, the government didn’t permit any villager to leave and left everyone there to die in isolation. It was a nightmare……” the young men were overcome with emotion and unable to continue.
Horrified, the doctor wailed, “But I just saw everyone last night!”
Another young man spoke up, “I think what you saw were ghosts. Please look around. Do you see a lot of strange-looking beans?”
The doctor parted the weeds and saw bean poles here and there. On the poles were beans with human faces. Each face had piercing eyes, ears, a nose and a mouth. There were men and women, both young and old, pretty and ugly. Looking more closely, he noticed that two beans had the same faces as his parents’!
The young man continued, “Since the end of that great plague, these beans with faces have grown here and made miserable cries every night. People believe they are the ghosts of the dead, so no one dares to visit here again. But last night, the sound of crying suddenly disappeared, so we came here to check……”
“Hey, come here!” shouted another young man squatting on the side of the road. “There are some new red marks on the necks of the bean faces.”
“That is strange. What could that be?”
Crying inconsolably, the doctor wrapped his arms around the beans with his parents’ faces and barely squeezed out the words, “That is the ointment I put on them last night.”

Leave a Comment