Ren - The Fox Fairy

Zheng and Wei were best friends. Zheng was a working man, while Wei was the son of a wealthy family. One day, Zheng was returning from a trip when he came across the most beautiful maiden he had ever seen. They were immediately attracted to each other, and she invited him home to meet her mother. He stayed for several days, and they fell deeply in love. When he finally left, with promises to return, he encountered an old man. Upon hearing of the beautiful girl, the old man nodded wisely and said, "Ah, I see you've met Ren, the fox fairy. Many young men have been captivated by her beauty, but you are the first she's taken to heart."

When Wei heard of his friend's good fortune, he was curious. Now Wei, being very rich and handsome, had had plenty of beautiful women in his life. He sent a servant to Ren's house to check things out, and the servant returned singing praises of her imcomparable beauty. Wei decided to see for himself. He called on Ren, and she was indeed as lovely as he had heard. In lust, he forced himself upon her. She fought him off bravely, but after a lengthy struggle, she sighed deeply and said, "Pity Zheng, a poor man, who has nothing, just my love. You, who have riches beyond belief, you would take from your best friend that which he cherishes the most." On hearing her words, Wei was much ashamed. He begged for her forgiveness, for he saw the truth in what she said. From that day on, he was a changed man. He treated Ren with utmost respect and kindness, and they became the closest of friends.

One day, Wei arranged a hunting expedition for Zheng and himself. He invited Ren to accompany them, but she was reluctant. She had been advised by a fortune teller to abstain from western travel. The men implored her to change her mind, and eventually she relented. As the hunting party was about to take off, the hounds were released. In a flash, Ren changed into a little red fox, and, with the dogs in close pursuit, she fled into the forest. Zheng and Wei searched for her, but she was never found. All that remained were her silken robes. From that day on, the villagers spread the tale of Ren, the fox fairy, who loved with a true and faithful heart. Many young men explored the forest where she had disappeared, in hopes of catching a glimpse of her, but till today, she was never seen or heard from again.

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