When his wife, the Ninth Maiden, failed to return home, Chunwang was beside himself with worry. At the same time, the children cried and cried for their mother. Shouting at them to quiet down and stomping his foot only made matters worse.
What am I to do? he thought.
He did the only thing he could think of--he went in search of Brother Deer. He went to the mountain top and called out "Brother Deer" three times. By and by, Brother Deer appeared on the path and greeted him.
"Brother Deer," said Chunwang, "my wife has gone back to her celestial home and has not returned for more than two days now!"
"I know what happened, Chunwang," said Brother Deer. "It's not that the Ninth Maiden doesn't wish to return but that her father is keeping her from returning. Her father is not happy, you see, for marrying you, a mortal."
"What shall I do? I want my wife back! I have two crying children at home waiting for their mother!"
"Chunwang, there is a way. It is dangerous but a way nonetheless. Listen to me carefully. Tonight, when the night is its blackest, nine tiger gods will descend to drink from the banks of the West River. With your two children tied securely to your sides, and when the tiger gods have drunk their fill and when they one-by-one begin flying off into the sky, very quietly approach one from the back and grab tightly hold of his tail. The tiger god will fly into the heavens and deliver you to the realm of the Ninth Maiden."
"What are you telling me to do? To grab a tiger by the tail? And the tiger won't eat me?!"
"No, my brother, the tiger god won't. They don't turn their heads to the back to eat. The tiger god will pay you and your children no mind."
"And once I arrive there? What do I do then?"
"Once you get there, let go of the tiger's tail and give the two children a slap on their behinds. Their cries should cause their mother to come out from wherever she is."
"And," asked Chunwang, "if she doesn't come out?"
"Then, my brother, that might be it for you."
They parted but not before Chunwang said, "Thank you, Brother Deer. I'll remember what you said."
That very night, with his two sleeping children tied to his sides, Chunwang awaited the nine tiger gods to descend as he, Chunwang, kept watch by the banks of the river. One by one, the tiger gods, having drunk their water, proceeded to return to the sky. Chunwang grabbed hold of the tail of one and soon found himself, along with his children, flying through the air to a destination far beyond the clouds. He landed, let go of the tiger's tail, and slapped the two behinds of his children, who promptly cried out.
The Ninth Maiden appeared.
"Oh, you are here! You are now in deep danger, my husband!" said Ninth Maiden. "My father will certainly try to harm you!"
"So what shall I do?" asked Chunwang.
"Hmm . . . All right. He'll certainly put you to some tests. Let me know as soon as he has assigned some tasks. Now, let me take the children, for we must all go before my father!"
from Tan Daxian, pp. 60-61.
For parts one, two and three, see, respectively, 7/31/12; 8/1/12; and 8/9/12. For those who are interested in this Han Chinese version of the Supernatural Wife/ Swan Maiden, I apologize for not providing an installment earlier! This is a rather long folktale, much longer than those I usually translate. It might well run ten parts before it's completed.