During the Qing Dynasty, there were twin brothers who lived in Yuzhang. They not only looked the same, but they acted the same as well, so much so even their parents couldn’t tell them apart. At school, even their handwriting was the same. At the age of 20, they became students of a court academy.
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. An attractive young widow lived next to where the examination was held. After a while, she tried to seduce the older brother, but he 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 tried to seduce me. She will most likely try to seduce you as well. You should not fall for her or else you will lose your virtue!” The younger brother nodded.
The widow did not know that the man she tried to seduce had a twin brother. She tried to seduce him again, but this time it was the younger brother. The younger brother fell for her and committed adultery with her.
After some time, 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, 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 trusted him and gave him all the money she had saved to help him.
The following spring, the older brother was successful again. Of course the woman thought it was her lover who did well, so she was looking forward to becoming his wife. However, she never heard from the younger brother again and she became ill as a result. 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 realised what had happened. He questioned the younger brother about his behaviour 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.