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The Dangerous Reward

Once upon a time a man named Hu-Wu-Bau, who lived near the Great Mountain, went walking there one day. And there, under a tree, he met a messenger in a red robe who called out to him: “The Lord of the Great Mountain would like to see you!” The man was much frightened, but dared offer no objection. The messenger bade him shut his eyes, and when he was allowed to open them again after a short time, he found himself standing before a lofty palace. He entered it to see the god. The latter had a meal prepared for him and said: “I only sent for you to-day because I had heard you intended traveling to the West. And in that case I should like to give you a letter to take to my daughter.”

“But where is your daughter?” asked the man.

“She is married to the river-god,” was the reply. “All you need to do is to take along the letter lying there. When you reach the middle of the Yellow River, beat against the side of the ship and call out: ‘Greencoat!’ Then some one will appear and take the letter from you.”

And with these words he handed Hu-Wu-Bau the letter, and he was taken back again to the upper world.

When he came to the Yellow River on his journey, he did what the Lord of the Great Mountain had told him, and cried: “Greencoat!” And sure enough, a girl in green garments rose from the water, took him by the hand and told him to close his eyes. Then she led him into the palace of the river-god and he delivered the letter. The river-god entertained him splendidly, and thanked him as best he knew how. At parting he said: “I am grateful that you have made this long journey to see me. I have nothing to give you, however, save this pair of green silk shoes. While you are wearing them you can keep on walking as long as you like and never grow weary. And they will give you the second sight, so that you will be able to see the spirits and gods.”

The man thanked him for the gift and returned to his ship. He continued on his journey to the West, and after a year had passed, came back again.

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