A certain fellow…was killed by bandits during one of their raids. His head flopped down on to his chest. When the bandits had gone and the family came to recover the corpse for burial, they detected the faintest trace of breathing and saw that the man’s windpipe was not quite severed… So they carried him home, supporting the head carefully, and after a day and a night he began to make a moaning noise. They fed him minute quantities of food with a spoon and chopsticks, and after six months he was fully recovered.
Ten years after, he was sitting talking with two or three friends when one of them cracked a hilarious joke and they all burst out laughing. X was rocking backwards and forwards in a fit of hysterical laughter when suddenly the old sword wound burst open and his head fell to the ground in a pool of blood. His friends examined him and this time he was well and truly dead.
His father decided to bring charges against the man who had told the joke. But the joker’s friends collected some money together and succeeded in buying him off. The father buried his son and dropped the charges.
Pu Songling Strange Tales From a Chinese Studio
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