Told by Yang Xiu-gong.
In Yang Xiu-gong’s manuscript this form of the orphan and the bride story did not follow immediately after the earlier account. He explained simply that he knew this story with two different endings. Probably having written M484, he showed it to a friend who suggested that he had not got it quite right. He therefore wrote it again, summarising the rather tedious first section and introducing a new character in the person of the orphan’s brother-in-law. The shooting of the deer, somewhat pointless in the first telling, now falls into its proper place as the nemesis due to the hard-hearted sister-in-law. However her demise raises further questions. The orphan’s brother, clearly a successful farmer, could not simply go away and abandon his house, his land and his livestock. Moreover, a Miao family was a unit in which the wife had essential duties to perform. The proper functioning of the farm depended as much on her as on her husband. Without his wife how did the elder brother manage? Did the orphan bring back his new bride to take over the responsibilities of the home? We are not told.
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