Explore the enchanting tale of Zhu Gong and a mysterious fox spirit, a classic story of love, fate, and supernatural encounters in ancient China.
Fenzhou magistrate Zhu Gong had many foxes in his official residence. One night, Zhu Gong was sitting inside with the lamp lit, and a woman kept coming and going in the light. At first, he thought it was one of the women from his household and didn’t pay much attention. However, when he raised his eyes to look, he realized he didn’t recognize her, and this woman was exceptionally beautiful. Zhu Gong understood in his heart that she was a fox, but because he liked her, he called out to her loudly. The woman stopped in her tracks, smiled, and said, “Why are you shouting so loudly? Am I your servant or old mother?” Zhu Gong smiled, stood up, pulled her over, and made her sit down, apologizing. They started chatting intimately, and as time passed, they became as close as a married couple.
One day, the woman suddenly said to Zhu Gong, “You are about to be promoted, and the day of parting is approaching.” Zhu Gong asked, “When will it happen?” The woman replied, “It’s right in front of you. However, the congratulations are arriving at the door, and the mourners are also approaching the alley in your hometown. You won’t be able to hold onto this official position.”
Three days later, the joyful news of Zhu Gong’s promotion indeed arrived. However, the very next day, he received the sad news of his mother’s passing. Zhu Gong resigned from his official position, intending to return to his hometown with the woman. The woman disagreed and accompanied Zhu Gong to the riverside. Zhu Gong forcefully pulled the woman onto the boat, but she said, “Don’t you know? Foxes cannot cross the river.” Unable to bear parting from her, Zhu Gong lingered by the river. Suddenly, the woman left, saying she wanted to visit an old friend. Some time passed, and the woman returned. Shortly after, a guest came to visit, and the woman entertained the guest in another room. After the guest departed, the woman returned and said, “Please board the boat; I will escort you across the river.” Zhu Gong asked, “Didn’t you say earlier that you couldn’t cross the river? How can you do it now?” The woman replied, “The one I met earlier was no one else but the River God. I specially asked for his permission for you. He granted me ten days for the round trip, so I can temporarily go with you.” And so, the two of them crossed the river together. On the tenth day, as promised, the woman indeed parted ways and left.