During his tenure as magistrate in Henan(河南), Yang Lihu(楊笠湖) was tasked with providing relief to the famine-stricken in Shangshui County(商水縣). It was early autumn, and the scorching heat persisted relentlessly. After completing their midday duties, Mr. Yang instructed his subordinates to seek shade and coolness in the City God Temple.
As they entered the temple and settled, a man hurried towards them, imploring, “I am Zhang Xiang(張相), begging for your help, sir!” Mr. Yang inquired about the nature of Zhang Xiang’s distress, to which he responded, “I am not in any immediate danger!” His attendants, assuming he might be afflicted by madness, moved to expel him from the temple. However, Zhang Xiang vehemently refused to leave, exclaiming, “I dreamt last night that our local City God and the deceased Lord Wang(已故縣主王太爺) were seated together. The City God told me, ‘In times of peril, seek aid from your official.’ I hastened to bow before Lord Wang, who said, ‘I am in the underworld and unable to assist you. Seek help from Magistrate Yang in the neighboring county. After tomorrow noon, you’ll be safe.’ I rose early today and heard of Magistrate Yang’s presence in the City God Temple, hence my plea for help.” He finished speaking and continued to kowtow.
Though Mr. Yang found the tale bewildering, he had no choice but to humor Zhang Xiang, saying, “I promise to assist you. If you face any danger, feel free to seek me out at any time.” He then instructed his attendants to record Zhang Xiang’s name and escorted him out of the temple.
A few days later, Mr. Yang arrived at the place where Zhang Xiang resided to offer aid in the disaster relief efforts. Inquiring about Zhang Xiang’s situation, the locals revealed, “After Zhang Xiang had that peculiar dream, he went straight to the City God Temple. Soon after he left, two rooms in his house collapsed, causing significant damage. Fortunately, because he had entered the city, he escaped unharmed.
Translated from《楊笠湖救難》in 《子不語》: