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The Emperor of Qin and the Spirit of the Sea

The Book San Qi-lüe Record (三齊略), says that Qin Shi-huang ( 秦始皇 ) wished to construct a stone bridge in the midst of the sea, so that he could cross over to find out the place of sunrise; but as this was not within the compass of human power, the Spirit of the Sea (海神) set up the buttresses for him. The Spirit drove stones down into the Eastern Sea from the Mountain Chengyang. All stones stood up and moved eastward. The Spirit whipped those slow stones to urge up, he flogged them so hard that all stones bled. You can still see red bloodstains on those stones on the Mountain Chengyang till today.

Qin Shi-huang was grateful for the kindness of the Sea Spirit, and doing honour to him, sought an interview; the spirit of the sea replied, saying, ' My form is ugly, and you must not delineate it ; on condition of your not attempting this, I will meet with your Majesty.' Qin Shi-huang then constructed a stone pier, upon which he went out about ten miles into the sea, and obtained an interview. His attendants did not dare to move their hands, but a clever fellow among them clandestinely delineated the form which presented the Spirit of the Sea itself with his foot. The spirit was angry, and charging his Majesty with a breach of faith, departed.

Qin Shi-huang hurriedly turned around his horse back to the shore, just merely set foot on the land safely, but his attendant the painter drowned. All stones set up as buttresses collapsed.


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