Myths and Legends of China
Page: 106The local t’u-ti at once made a report to Yü Huang.
“This Shih family,” replied the god, “for three generations has given itself up to good works, and certainly the brigands were not deserving of any pity. However, it is impossible to deny that the three brothers Shih, in refusing them food, morally compelled them to loot the Tai family’s house, putting all to the sword or flames. Is not this the same as if they had committed the crime themselves? Let them be arrested and put in chains in the celestial prison, and let them never see the light of the sun again.”
“Since,” said the messenger to the God of Hua Shan, Page 256“your gratitude toward Miao Chuang compels you to grant him an heir, why not ask Yü Huang to pardon their crime and reincarnate them in the womb of the Queen Po Ya, so that they may begin a new terrestrial existence and give themselves up to good works?” As a result, the God of Hua Shan called the Spirit of the Wind and gave him a message for Yü Huang.
A Message for Yü Huang
The message was as follows: “King Miao Chuang has offered sacrifice to me and begged me to grant him an heir. But since by his wars he has caused the deaths of a large number of human beings, he does not deserve to have his request granted. Now these three brothers Shih have offended your Majesty by constraining the brigand Wang Che to be guilty of murder and robbery. I pray you to take into account their past good works and pardon their crime, giving them an opportunity of expiating it by causing them all three to be reborn, but of the female sex, in the womb of Po Ya the Queen.2 In this way they will be able to atone for their crime and save many souls.” Yü Huang was pleased to comply, and he ordered the Spirit of the North Pole to release the three captives and take their souls to the palace of King Miao Chuang, where in three years’ time they would be changed into females in the womb of Queen Po Ya.
Birth of the Three Daughters
The King, who was anxiously expecting day by day the birth of an heir, was informed one morning that a Page 257daughter had been born to him. She was named Miao Ch’ing. A year went by, and another daughter was born. This one was named Miao Yin. When, at the end of the third year, another daughter was born, the King, beside himself with rage, called his Grand Minister Chao Chên and, all disconsolate, said to him, “I am past fifty, and have no male child to succeed me on the throne. My dynasty will therefore become extinct. Of what use have been all my labours and all my victories?” Chao Chen tried to console him, saying, “Heaven has granted you three daughters: no human power can change this divine decree. When these princesses have grown up, we will choose three sons-in-law for your Majesty, and you can elect your successor from among them. Who will dare to dispute his right to the throne?”