In the second year of the Dali period, Magistrate Li Zuoshi of Shanyin fell ill with a serious illness. After several days, his condition improved slightly, and he traveled from Kuaiji to Longqiu. His cousin, Magistrate Li Shu, was serving as the county magistrate in Longqiu, and he invited Li Zuoshi to stay at the county office for a few days.
One night, Li Zuoshi was talking with his guest, Li Ju, by candlelight when suddenly twenty or so men dressed in red robes and carrying weapons appeared in the corridor. Li Zuoshi asked them who they were, and they replied, “We are ghosts. The King has appointed you as a judge, and we have been sent to escort you. We are here to serve your orders.”
Li Zuoshi said, “I am still in mourning, and it would be improper for me to accept such an appointment. Besides, how would your King know of me?”
The ghosts replied, “Magistrate Dou Kan of Wuyi County has recommended you.”
Li Zuoshi asked, “But I don’t even know him. How could he recommend me?”
The ghosts replied, “The King has already given his orders, and they cannot be changed.”
Soon after, Magistrate Dou Kan arrived. He greeted Li Zuoshi with great courtesy and respect, and he said, “The King is looking for a son-in-law, and he wants the son-in-law to also oversee the affairs of the nobility. That is why I recommended you. It is also your destiny.”
Li Zuoshi still refused to accept the appointment.
Before long, the King’s daughter arrived. Her carriage was like a cloud, and she exuded a fragrant scent. Li Zuoshi quickly descended the steps to greet her. When he saw the King’s daughter, she was so beautiful and noble that he was immediately attracted to her.
Magistrate Dou Kan said to Li Zuoshi, “Everyone must die, but few people have such good fortune. Don’t refuse anymore, or you will make the King angry.”
Li Zuoshi knew that he could not escape his fate.
After a while, the King’s daughter and Magistrate Dou Kan disappeared. Two hundred or so attendants remained, and they respectfully escorted Li Zuoshi to his new position as a judge.
The next day, Li Shu and his brother Li Zao came to visit Li Zuoshi. Li Zuoshi told them what had happened, and then he said, “Since I am not going to live much longer, please give me some good food.”
Li Shu prepared a feast for Li Zuoshi. Li Zuoshi was eating a bowl of wild chicken soup when suddenly the bowl disappeared. He shouted to his attendants, “Why did you take away my soup?” He then fell face down on the table and died.
Li Zuoshi’s coffin was loaded onto a boat and transported back to his hometown of Kuaiji. On the night the boat arrived, one of his wife’s maids was suddenly possessed by Li Zuoshi’s spirit. The spirit said, “The King’s daughter has married someone else. Now it is time for me to send my wife back home.” The voice was very sad.