In the district of Hóu-tcheou-fou, the magistrate’s assistant Chen was taking a nap in his study. Suddenly, a celestial functionary appeared, and beckoned him to follow. He led Chen down a path hidden by rustling thickets of bamboo to a clearing where, on a pedestal, an enormous mirror waited.
“Regard what you once were in your previous life,” the apparition commanded him. Looking into the mirror, Chen saw a man with a pointed cap on his head and red slippers on his feet, dressed in the manner of a scholar from the Ming dynasty.