The fortune teller was Ghost-Eyes Qi and he said to one of Xue Er’s friends: “You will be promoted in the autumn!” He said to the other friend: “In a month’s time, you will receive a fortune!” Then he saw Xue Er and said:
“Your face looks as dark as plaster – I am afraid you can’t escape death and you won’t live until the Mid-Autumn Festival.”
The first friend of Xue Er was a government office secretary. One day while walking in the mountains, he saw a bear chasing a man. In order to save the man, he picked up a large stick lying by the roadside and chased off the bear. He soon realized that the person the bear had been chasing was the governor. In order to thank the man who saved his life, the governor promoted him to county magistrate.
The second friend of Xue Er was a scholar. When his grandfather was dying, his family was sent a message asking them to prepare his coffin and:
“Whoever comes back home first will be given 5,000 liang (550 pounds) of gold.”
The scholar wished to honor his grandfather, so he hurried back home the day he received the message. He saw that his grandfather was still alive when he arrived and he immediately received the 5,000 liang of gold.
After seeing how the fortune teller predictions had come true for his friends, Xue Er thought that he would not be able to escape the bad luck that had been foretold, so he took all of his money and used it for charitable deeds.
One day, Xue Er was walking along the Qiantang River when he saw a person who was trying to take his own life by jumping into the river. He immediately ran to the man and embraced him, and asked why he wanted to commit suicide. The man replied that his name was Hu Rai and that he was born in Yangzhou.
He had used his family’s fortune to buy goods, but they were all lost when a storm caused his ship to sink. Although his life was spared, he didn’t dare to return home and wanted to die. After hearing the story, Xue Er comforted him and gave 2,500 liang (275 pounds) of silver. Hu Rui gratefully asked Xue’s name so he could repay him later, but Xue Er would not tell him.
One day during the Mid-Autumn Festival, Xue Er was strolling down the street and met the fortune teller Ghost-Eyes Qi. When he saw Xue Er, he told him the plaster color on his face had disappeared. This surely meant he had done some good deeds. At that moment, Xue Er understood the principle “By doing good deeds, one can gain longevity.”
He smiled at the fortune teller and explained what had happened since they had last met. Xue Er continued to do good deeds, and lived to the ripe old age of 90.
Translated by Xianghai.