This strange tale occurred in 1788 during the reign of the Qianlong emperor.
In Baoding Prefecture, Qingwan County, the Li and Zhang families were joined by the marriage of the Zhangs' son to one of the Li family's daughters.
The distance between the Li family home and the Zhangs' village was more than a hundred miles, and so the customary visit of the bride to her parents after a month of marriage was not a simple matter.
However, the new Madam Zhang made the journey, and when it came time to return she was picked up by her husband. He brought a donkey for her to ride while he walked behind.
About twenty miles from the Zhangs' village they passed through a village where the husband had a number of good friends. They got caught up in conversation and eventually Zhang suggested to his wife that she start off for home before him. The donkey knew the road so there was supposedly little danger that she would get lost.
She had gone only six or seven miles when she came to an intersection. The western path led to the Zhangs' village and the eastern path to Renqiu County.
Just as the donkey was about to cross to the western path, a carriage owned by a wealthy young Renqiu man by the name of Liu came hurtling past. It pushed the donkey off the road leaving the poor animal quite disoriented. The donkey then resumed its steady pace, but this time on the eastern path towards Renqiu, away from the Zhangs' village.
Towards dusk, the young bride began to suspect something had gone terribly wrong. Coming across the wealthy young Renqiu man, whose carriage had stopped, she nervously asked how far she was from Zhang Village.
"You're going the wrong way for Zhang Village. You should have gone west," the young man replied.