Liu Hongjing’s family lived in Feishui near the Huai River for many generations. He was a millionaire, but he conducted himself with morality. He had never been one to show off his wealth, so no one knew that he was a man of wealth.
One day, Liu Hongjing ran into a very gifted fortuneteller while the fortuneteller was on his way to Shouchun. He asked the man to give him a reading. The fortuneteller said, “You are a wealthy man, but you will die in two years. No one can do anything about it!” Liu replied, “Indeed, it is gods who determine the length of everyone’s life span. However, I would still like to know if there is any way I could pray to the gods to extend my life span.” The fortuneteller answered, “In order for a person to have good fortunes, having a high level of morality is more important than having the right facial features, and having a high degree of tolerance for other people is more important than having a high level of morality. You may have a short life span, but you have a high level of morality and even a more abundant supply of tolerance for others. God has granted you two years of life. The gods might grant you a longer life if you utilise the two years in cultivating your kindness and accumulating your virtue. I will return in three years.”
With tears in his eyes, Liu saw the fortuneteller off. After he returned home, he immediately started to arrange everything so that his family would be taken care of after his death. First he began to arrange for his daughter’s marriage. He needed four slave maids to be his daughter’s chambermaids after the marriage, so he bought four young maids for 800,000 qian (a type of ancient monetary unit; one thousand qian was equivalent to 1 gram of silver). Among the four slave maids, there was a real beauty named Lan Sun. She had a unique grace and elegance to her, and her manners were far superior to those of the other maids. Out of curiosity, Liu asked Lan Sun about her family background. Lan Sun burst into tears and could not utter a word. After some time, she finally told Liu Hongjing, “I came from a distinguished family in Luoyang. My father was a government official with a post in Huaixi. My father was killed during Wu Yuanji’s rebellion and after my father’s death, the local government confiscated my family’s properties. I was sold as a slave and have been subjected to all kinds of humiliation and pain. I have no one to go to. My family members were kidnapped, and I don’t even know their whereabouts. I have been sold to different people many times. Now I have been sold to you.” Upon telling her miseries, Lan Sun burst into tears again.
Liu Hongjing sighed and said, “A young lady from a literary family has suffered so much injustice and humiliation. God will definitely punish me if I do not take good care of her.” He asked Lan Sun about her family members and found out her maternal grandfather was also surnamed Liu. He then adopted her as his maternal niece and burned the receipt for his purchase of Lan Sun. Next he offered 500,000 qian as Lan Sun’s dowry and arranged for her to be married into a good family before he had his own daughter married.
On Lan Sun’s wedding night, Liu Hongjing had a dream where a man in civilian clothes carrying a scroll knelt down to him from a distance. The man said with tears, “I am Lan Sun’s father. I wanted to thank you for your good deed, but I had nothing to offer. I heard you have a short life span, so I decided that I must go see the King of Heaven and ask him to consider extending your life span. I am here to tell you that I am going to see the King of Heaven.” Three days later, he had another dream where Lan Sun’s father stood in the courtyard in a purple robe. Accompanied with many servants, he held a scroll with both hands and looked majestic. He thanked Liu Hongjing again and said, “I was very fortunate. The King of Heaven has granted my request. He has agreed to extend your life by twenty-five years and keep your family wealthy for three generations. He has also agreed to punish those depraved men who have persecuted my family. The King of Heaven was very sympathetic towards me for the injustices I had suffered, so he has appointed me to an important post. I am now in charge of the rivers and brooks in the Huaihai region.” Then he started to cry and left after he repeatedly thanked Liu Hongjing.
Three years later, the gifted fortuneteller returned. He congratulated Liu and said, “Your life has been extended. You must have done some good deeds that moved the heavens. You have another twenty-five years of life and your great virtue will benefit your family for three generations.” Liu Hongjing told the fortuneteller what had happened. The fortuneteller was very touched and called it an unusual story. Liu did live another twenty-five years, exactly like Lan Sun’s father had told him in the dream.
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