Hearing this name, a neighbor ran to inform Chou, who would not at first believe him. At length he decided to go to the wine pavilion, where he was compelled to recognize her, though he kept on saying:
“I buried her long since!”
Nevertheless, the guard insisted upon leading Erh-lang to prison. Fan had the doors shut then, and stayed with Chou by the corpse till morning.
Early next day the Governor inquired into the matter. The coffin was opened. It was found empty, and the keepers told how their dog had been found dead in the snow on the day after the funeral. In the absence of any completer explanation, they proceeded with their inquiry.
Erh-lang, in his prison, was overcome with sorrowful remorse. Sometimes he said that she could not have survived her burial; sometimes he was rent with horror at the thought that she had been alive when he struck her. He recalled her beauty and grace in Spring by the lake side, and bitter tears rolled from him. While he was musing in this way, he saw his cell door open, and the girl appeared. In his emotion and fear, he cried:
“Are you not dead, my darling?”
“Your blow caused me more grief than harm. Now I have wakened, and have come to see you.”
She approached the bench where he sat, and he took her hand:
“How can I have been so foolish as to fear you?”
They were talking thus, and already, in their deep love, they were in each other’s arms. His joy was so keen that suddenly he woke. It was a dream.
On the second night the same thing happened, and on the third, and his passion grew stronger for her. As she was going away the third time, she said:
“My life on earth had come to an end, but my love was so great and so potently called me to you, that the Marshal-of-the-Five-Ways, the Keeper-of-the-Frontier-of-the-Shadows, allowed me to come back to you, for these three nights. I must leave you now. But, if you do not forget, there will yet be something of me bound to your soul.”
Then she disappeared, and the young man sobbed most bitterly.
In the end the matter was cleared up by chance. Feng’s mother, having filched a golden trifle from her son’s bag, went to sell it to the same jeweler who had made it for Chou. On being denounced before the Governor, mother and son were apprehended, and all the jewels were discovered in their house. Torture found them words, and the whole matter became clear. Erh-lang had actually believed that he saw a ghost, and was released. Feng was sentenced to slow death, and strips were torn one by one from his body by the executioner. His mother was only strangled.
As for Erh-lang, his heart stayed faithful to the girl he had so greatly loved. At every feast he went to the temple of the Marshal-of-the-Five-Ways, and burned incense, so that the pleasant smoke of it might ascend to the palace of the soul of little Victorious-Immortal. His fidelity touched even the rough heart of Chou and, when he came to die a few years later, his body was buried in the same tomb with her whom his arms had known only in sleep.