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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "How the River God's Wedding Was Broken Off"

How the River God's Wedding Was Broken Off

At the time of the seven empires there lived a man by the name of Si-Men Bau, who was a governor on the Yellow River. In this district the river-god was held in high honor. The sorcerers and witches who dwelt there said: “Every year the river-god looks for a bride, who must be selected from among the people. If she be not found then wind and rain will not come at the proper seasons, and there will be scanty crops and floods!” And then, when a girl came of age in some wealthy family, the sorcerers would say that she should be selected. Whereupon her parents, who wished to protect their daughter, would bribe them with large sums of money to look for some one else, till the sorcerers would give in, and order the rich folk to share the expense of buying some poor girl to be cast into the river. The remainder of the money they would keep for themselves as their profit on the transaction. But whoever would not pay, their daughter was chosen to be the bride of the river-god, and was forced to accept the wedding gifts which the sorcerers brought her. The people of the district chafed grievously under this custom.

Now when Si-Men entered into office, he heard of this evil custom. He had the sorcerers come before him and said: “See to it that you let me know when the day of the river-god’s wedding comes, for I myself wish to be present to honor the god! This will please him, and in return he will shower blessings on my people.” With that he dismissed them. And the sorcerers were full of praise for his piety.

So when the day arrived they gave him notice. Si-Men dressed himself in his robes of ceremony, entered his chariot and drove to the river in festival procession. The elders of the people, as well as the sorcerers and the witches were all there. And from far and near men, women and children had flocked together in order to see the show. The sorcerers placed the river-bride on a couch, adorned her with her bridal jewels, and kettledrums, snaredrums and merry airs vied with each other in joyful sound.

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