“Many thanks, madam,” said Chwang, “for your deep conside- ation. But may I ask why you are dressed in such gay clothing.” “When I went to open your coffin, I had, as I say, a secret presentiment of my good fortune, and I dared not receive you back to life in mourning attire.”
“Oh,” replied her husband, “but there is one other circumstance which I should like to have explained. Why was not my coffin placed in the saloon, but tossed into a ruined barn?”
To this question Lady T’ien’s woman’s wit failed to supply an answer. Chwang looked at the cups and wine which formed the relics of the marriage feast, but made no other remark thereon, except to tell his wife to warm him some wine. This she did, employing all her most engaging wiles to win a smile from her husband; but he steadily rejected her advances, and presently, pointing with his finger over her shoulder, he said, “Look at those two men behind you.”
Chwang’s other self
She turned with an instinctive knowledge that she would see the Prince and his servant in Ihe courtyard, and so she did. Horrified at the sight, she turned her eyes toward her husband, but he was not there. Again looking towards the courtyard she found that the prince and his servant had now disappeared, and that Chwang was once more at her side. Perceiving then the true state of the case, that the Prince and his servant were but Chwang’s other self, which he by his magical power was able to project into separate existences, she saw that all attempts at concealment were vain; and taking her girdle from her waist, she tied it to a beam and hung herself on the spot.
So soon as life was extinct Chwang put his frail wife into the coffin from which he had lately emerged, and setting fire to his house, burnt it with its contents to ashes. The only things saved from the flames were the “Sutra of Reason and of Virtue,” and “The Classic of Nan-hwa,” which were found by some neighbors, and carefully treasured.
As to Chwang, it is said that he set out on a journey towards the West. What his ultimate destination was is not known, but one thing is certain, and that is, that he remained a widower for the rest of his life.A Fickle Widow