Myths and Legends of China
Page: 86So Po Shih sent another messenger to the God of the Sea, requesting him to raise a pillar and place a beam across it which could be used as a bridge. The submarine spirits came and placed themselves at the service of the Emperor, who asked for an interview with the god. To this the latter agreed on condition that no one should make a portrait of him, he being very ugly. Instantly a stone gangway 100,000 feet long rose out of the sea, and the Emperor, mounting his horse, went with his courtiers to the palace of the god. Among his followers was one Lu Tung-shih, who tried to draw a portrait of the god by using his foot under the surface of the water. Detecting this manoeuvre, the god was incensed, and Page 214said to the Emperor: “You have broken your word; did you bring Lu here to insult me? Retire at once, or evil will befall you.” The Emperor, seeing that the situation was precarious, mounted his horse and galloped off. As soon as he reached the beach, the stone cause-way sank, and all his suite perished in the waves. One of the Court magicians said to the Emperor: “This god ought to be feared as much as the God of Thunder; then he could be made to help us. To-day a grave mistake has been made.” For several days after this incident the waves beat upon the beach with increasing fury. The Emperor then built a temple and a pagoda to the god on Chih-fu Shan and Wên-têng Shan respectively; by which act of propitiation he was apparently appeased.
The Shipwrecked Servant
Once the Eight Immortals (see Chapter XI) were on their way to Ch’ang-li Shan to celebrate the birthday anniversary of Hsien Wêng, the God of Longevity. They had with them a servant who bore the presents they intended to offer to the god. When they reached the seashore the Immortals walked on the waves without any difficulty, but Lan Ts’ai-ho remarked that the servant was unable to follow them, and said that a means of transport must be found for him. So Ts’ao Kuo-chiu took a plank of cypress-wood and made a raft. But when they were in mid-ocean a typhoon arose and upset the raft, and servant and presents sank to the bottom of the sea.
Regarding this as the hostile act of a water-devil, the Immortals said they must demand an explanation from the Dragon-king, Ao Ch’in. Li T’ieh-kuai took his gourd, and, directing the mouth toward the bottom of Page 215the sea, created so brilliant a light that it illuminated the whole palace of the Sea-king. Ao Ch’in, surprised, asked where this powerful light originated, and deputed a courier to ascertain its cause.
To this messenger the Immortals made their complaint. “All we want,” they added, “is that the Dragon-king shall restore to us our servant and the presents.” On this being reported to Ao Ch’in he suspected his son of being the cause, and, having established his guilt, severely reprimanded him. The young Prince took his sword, and, followed by an escort, went to find those who had made the complaint to his father. As soon as he caught sight of the Immortals he began to inveigh against them.