Yang Kaxiong(楊喀雄)’s father served as a military officer but passed away early. His paternal uncle, Zhou, held the position of deputy general, stationed in Hezhou(河州). Feeling sympathetic for the young and orphaned Yang Kaxiong, he took him in and raised him. Zhou had a daughter who took a liking to the young and clever Kaxiong. She often gave him food. Despite their closeness, there was no impropriety between Zhou’s daughter and Kaxiong.
There was a young man named Wuzi(務子), a relative of Zhou, who lived as a guest in their study. One summer night, unable to bear the heat, Kaxiong took a stroll under the moonlight and saw Zhou’s daughter arriving. They engaged in intimacy. The next morning, when Kaxiong went to greet his uncle, he saw Zhou’s daughter dressing up. He smiled at her, and she warmly welcomed him. From then on, Zhou’s daughter and Kaxiong met every day under the moonlight.
Once, Wuzi heard laughter from Kaxiong’s room and grew suspicious. He went to investigate and found Kaxiong and Zhou’s daughter embracing intimately. Consumed by jealousy, he secretly reported this to Deputy General Zhou. Angered, Zhou scolded his wife for not disciplining their daughter properly. However, despite his wife’s defense, Zhou, still suspicious, used another pretext to beat Kaxiong and expel him from their home.
Left without support, Kaxiong settled in an ancient temple in Lanzhou. One day, Zhou’s daughter suddenly appeared, bringing along valuable jewels and ornaments. Overjoyed and surprised, Kaxiong asked her how she came to Lanzhou. She replied, “I came with my uncle.” Zhou’s younger brother, Zhou Yi, also a military officer, had just been appointed as the commander of the defense in Lanzhou. Believing Zhou’s daughter’s words, Kaxiong cohabited with her for half a month, feeling as though he had become wealthy.
After Zhou Yi arrived, he encountered Kaxiong on the road and happily asked, “Nephew, do you also live in Lanzhou?” Kaxiong replied, “Yes.” Zhou Yi rode to Kaxiong’s new residence, requesting to meet his niece-in-law. To his surprise, he found that she was none other than his elder brother Deputy General Zhou’s daughter. Shocked, Zhou Yi asked Kaxiong to explain. Kaxiong narrated the whole story to Zhou Yi, who, a few days later, made an excuse and hurried to Hezhou, informing Deputy General Zhou about what he had seen in Lanzhou regarding Kaxiong and his niece.
Deputy General Zhou was shocked, claiming that his daughter had been at home, having dinner with him moments ago. He suspected it might have been a fox spirit impersonating his daughter. His wife suggested rather than letting a fox impersonate their daughter and tarnish her reputation, they might as well let their daughter marry Kaxiong to see how the fox spirit would react.
Both Zhou brothers agreed with their wife’s suggestion and immediately summoned Kaxiong back to Hezhou for him to marry Zhou’s daughter. On the night of their wedding, the imposter posing as Zhou’s daughter was already waiting in the bridal chamber. Caught off guard, Kaxiong didn’t know what to do. The imposter confessed to Kaxiong, saying, “Why panic? I’m a fox spirit. I came to repay your grandfather’s kindness. When your grandfather was a general, he hunted at Tumen Pass and shot me with an arrow. He removed the arrow and let me go. I wanted to repay his kindness several times but didn’t know how. When I learned you fell in love with Deputy General Zhou’s daughter and couldn’t fulfill your wish, I came specifically to act as a matchmaker for you. This was also destined between you and Zhou’s daughter. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to intervene. Now, the matchmaking is done, and I’m ready to leave.” In an instant, the fox spirit disappeared.
Translated from 《喀雄》 in 《子不語》:
🎨 《秋景貨郎圖軸》佚名 明