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The Magistrate and the Local Deity

Zhen Chong, a native of Zhongshan, was appointed magistrate of Yundu. On his way to his post he has to pass the county of Huihuai, where he was in formed that the son of the local deity wished to call on him. Soon the deity's son arrived, young and handsome. They exchanged the usual courtesies.

"My father sent me here," said the young god, "because he wants to be allied to your noble house, and hopes you will take my younger sister in marriage. I have come to bring you this message."

 "I am an old man and have a wife. It would not be right."

They argued back and forth several times, but Zhen was adamant.

The young god looked annoyed.

"Then my father will come himself," he said. "I doubt if you can refuse him."

He left, followed by a large retinue of attendants, with caps and whips on both banks of the river.

Soon the local deity arrived in person with an equipage like a baron's. His carriage had a dark green canopy and rd reins, and was escorted by several chariots. His daughter rode in an open carriage with several dozen silk pennants and eight maids before it, dressed in embroidered gowns more splendid than mortal eye had ever seen. They pitched a tent on the bank near Zhen and spread a carpet, after which the local deity alighted and at by the low table on a white woolen rug.

He had a jade spittoon, a handkerchief box of tortoise-shell and a white fly-whisk. His daughter remained on the east bank, with eunuchs carrying whisks at her side and maids in front. The local deity then ordered his assistant officers - some sixty of them - to sit before him, and called for music. The instruments they used seemed to be of glass.

"I have a humble daughter dear to my heart," said the god, "Since you come of a virtuous and renowned family, we are eager to be connected with you by marriage. That is why I sent my son with this request."

"I am old and decrepit," replied Zhen Chong. "I already have a wife and my son is quite big. So although I am tempted by this proffered honor, I must beg to decline."

"My daughter is twenty," continued the deity. "She is beautiful and gentle, and possessed of all the virtues. As she is now on the bank, there is no need for any preparation the wedding can take place at once."

Zhen Chong stood stubbornly, calling the god an evil spirit. He drew his sword and laid it on his knees, determined to resist to the death, and refused to discuss the matter any further. The local deity flew into a passion. He summoned three leopards and two tigers, which opened their red mouths wide and shock the earth with their roars as they leapt at Zhen. They attacked several dozen times, but Zhen held them at bay till dawn when men to wait for Zhen, however. Then Zhen moved into the Huihuai County office. The waiting carriage and men followed him in, and a man in plain dress and cap bowed to him and advised him to stay there and not go any further.

Zhen Chong did not dare leave until after ten days. Even then a man in a cap with a whip still followed him home. And he had not been home many days before his wife contracted an illness and died.

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