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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "The Constable"

The Constable

In a city in the neighborhood of Kaiutschou there once lived a constable by the name of Dung. One day when he returned from a hunt after thieves the twilight had already begun to fall. So before he waded through the stream that flowed through the city he sat down on the bank, lit a pipe and took off his shoes. When he looked up, he suddenly saw a man in a red hat dressed as a constable crouching beside him.

Astonished, he inquired: “Who are you? Your clothes indicate that you are a member of our profession, but I have never yet seen you among the men of our local force. Tell me, pray, whence you come?”

The other answered: “I am weary, having come a long journey, and would like to enjoy a pipeful of tobacco in your company. I am sure you will not object to that.”

Dung handed him a pipe and tobacco.

But the other constable said: “I do not need them. Just you keep on smoking. It is enough for me to enjoy the odor.”

So they chatted awhile together, and together waded through the stream. And gradually they became quite confidential and the stranger said: “I will be quite frank with you. I am the head constable of the Nether World, and am subject to the Lord of the Great Mountain. You yourself are a constable of reputation here in the upper world. And, because of my skill, I have standing in the world below. Since we are so well suited to each other, I should like to enter into a bond of brotherhood with you.”

Dung was agreeable and asked: “But what really brings you here?”

Said the other: “In your district there lives a certain Wang, who was formerly superintendent of the granaries, and at that time caused the death of an officer. This man has now accused him in the Nether World. The King of the Nether World cannot come to a decision in the case, and therefore has asked the Lord of the Great Mountain to settle it. The Lord of the Great Mountain has ordered that Wang’s property and life be shortened. First his property is to be sequestered here in the upper world, and then his soul is to be dragged to the nether one.

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