An Ancient Story of the Consequences of Adultery

During the Qing Dynasty, there were twin boys who lived in Yuzhang. They not only looked the same, they acted the same as well; even their parents couldn't tell them apart. The parents named them after they started to speak. At school their understanding of text and writing were also the same. At the age of 20, they became students of a court academic.

After they grew up, they both got married. The parents worried that their wives would have a hard time telling them apart, so they taught their daughters-in-law to differentiate them based on their different clothes. A year later, each wife gave birth to a son.

When the twins turned 31, they went to take the provincial examination. During the exam period, an attractive young widow lived next to the place where the brothers stayed. After a while, she tried to seduce the older brother. But the older brother refused with stern words. He worried that this woman would seduce his younger brother, so he told his younger brother what she did and advised him, “You and I look exactly the same. She seduced me. She will most likely try to seduce you as well. You should not fall for her and lose your virtue!” The younger brother nodded.

The widow did not know that the brothers were twins and that they looked exactly the same. She thought the younger brother was the older one, so she tried to seduce him again. The younger brother fell for her and committed adultery with her. After a while, the younger brother told the woman, “If I am successful in the imperial examination, I will marry you.” As it turned out, the older brother was successful, and the younger brother failed. So the younger brother deceived her again, saying, “This year, although I was successful, I still need to take the spring examination. After that, I will marry you and you will have a rich and happy life.” Then he told her that he had run out of money to prepare for the examination. The widow really trusted him and gave him all she had saved to help him.

The following spring, the older brother was successful again. The woman thought it was the younger brother who did well, and she was looking forward to becoming his wife. However, she never heard from the younger brother again, and she became sick. So she wrote a letter to tell him about the pain in her heart. She soon died from depression.

The widow's letter finally ended up in the older brother's hands. He was very surprised after he realized what had happened. He questioned the younger brother about his behavior and was very disappointed. The younger brother had nothing to say. The following year, the younger brother's son died suddenly. The younger brother was so saddened that he could not stop crying. He lost his eyesight because of it and died soon after.

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