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The Constable

And with the exception of myself no one ever knew anything of the matter.’ When my mother told them of her encounter with Wang in the Nether World, the whole family burst into loud weeping. Four tents full of Buddhist and Taoist priests were sent for, who fasted and read masses for thirty-five days in order that Wang might be delivered. Whole mountains of paper money, silk and straw figures were burned, and the ceremonies have not as yet come to an end.”

When Dung heard this he was very much frightened.

Two years later he received an order to journey to Taianfu in order to arrest some robbers there. He thought to himself: “My friend, the spirit, must be very powerful indeed, to have known about this trip so far in advance. I must inquire for him. Perhaps I will see him again.”

When he reached Taianfu he sought out an inn.

The inn-keeper received him with the words: “Are you Master Dung, and have you come from the bay of Kaiutschou?”

“I am the man,” answered Dung, alarmed, “how do you happen to know me?”

The inn-keeper replied: “The constable of the temple of the Great Mountain appeared to me last night and said: ‘To-morrow a man by the name of Dung who is a good friend of mine is coming from the bay of Kaiutschou!’ And then he described your appearance and your clothes to me exactly, and told me to make careful note of them, and when you came to treat you with the greatest consideration, and to take no pay from you, since he would repay me lavishly. So when I saw you coming everything was exactly as my dreams had foretold, and I knew you at once. I have already prepared a quiet room for you, and beg that you will condescend to make yourself at ease.”

Joyfully Dung followed him, and the inn-keeper waited on him with the greatest consideration, and saw that he had great plenty to eat and to drink.

At midnight the spirit arrived. Without having opened the door, he stood by Dung’s bedside, gave him his hand, and asked how things had gone with him since he had last seen him.

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