|The Perfect Face | Oil on canvas | 24 by 30 inches|
"That maiden's face.
At T'ai-yuan there lived a man named Wang. One morning he was out walking when he met a young lady carrying a bundle and hurrying along by herself. She was of such exquisite beauty that he became much smitten.
He inquired where she was hurrying to at such early hours, and was surprised to learn the girl was attempting to escape enslavement. She had been sold as a concubine by her greedy parents. The new family was wealthy, but the lady of the household was so jealous of the girl's beauty, that the young thing was often subjected to cruel abuse. After hearing her story, a sympathetic Wang offers refuge.
The girl agrees but made Wang promise to not tell anyone she was hiding out at his library. Wang promised to not divulge her secret, but later told his wife. Fearing that the girl might belong to some influential family, his wife advised him to send her away, to which he would not consent to.
One day while in town, Wang met a Taoist priest who warned him that he had been bewitched by a demon. Startled but bewildered, Wang insisted he had not encountered anything peculiar and decided the priest was probably trying to swindle him. When he returned home, he found the library door tightly shut. Curious, Wang decided to climb over the wall. His little snooping led him to discover a hideous demon that had a green face and jagged teeth.
Spread upon the bed was a human skin which the demon was painting on. Later, it picked up the skin, and placed it over its shoulder, transforming itself into the young beautiful girl.
Terrified, Wang hurried away in search of the priest. The priest gave Wang a brush, and told him to hang it at the door of his bedroom. Wang did as he was told, but the amulet was weak against the formidable demon. Angered, the demon ripped open Wang's chest and tore his heart out.
Later, when he learned of Wang's demise, the priest returned. He struck the demon and chopped off its head, causing the painted human skin to come sliding off its shoulders. Wang's wife pleaded for the priest to save her husband, and was advised to seek help from a mad man that roamed the town streets.
When she did find the town's destitute, she was given a thrashing instead and ridiculed into swallowing a loathsome pill. Overcome with rage and shame, the grieving wife returned home to mourn for Wang. She was setting out to close up the frightful wound on her husband chest, when she felt a rising lump in her throat. The strange glob subsequently got expelled and fell straight into Wang's gaping chest. At closer inspection, the wife realized it was a throbbing human heart and immediately worked on getting the wound stitched up.
By morning, Wang woke and was alive again."