A Spirit Knocks at Physicians’ Doors 鬼扣醫門

Long ago in the capital several friends among the scholars of a government school were strolling beneath the moon when they saw a page boy bearing a red gauze lamp and leading, with a woman walking very slowly behind. The scholarly friends, having suspicions about the strange sight of a woman walking alone so late at night, so they followed and observed her. Reaching the left side of Zhong’an Bridge, she knocked on the gate of the physician Zhang Fangyu and called on him for medicine. Zhang opened the door and saw her, then shut [237] it without admitting her. Next she knocked on Superintendant Li’s shop; Li came out and looked, then invited her in and went to feel her pulse. The scholar friends waited for a long time but she did not emerge, so they memorized the positions of the two physicians’ gates and went home. The next morning they called on Zhang Fangyu, who said: “Walking alone late at night, she couldn’t be the daughter of an honourable household, so she was turned away.” They then visited Li’s shop, and heard the sound of weeping and wailing coming from his household; asking them, they were told: “Last night a woman knocked on the door for a medical consultation, and after she left he had a stroke and died.” They then knew that it had been a ghost taking the shape of a woman, knocking on doors and seeking medicine. It can only be that Li saw her beauty and then ended up like this.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.236 (Tale 426):


昔京庠有士友數人步月夜行,見有(「有」,明刻本作「一」。)小廝持紅紗籠前導,一婦人冉冉後隨,士友疑其暮夜獨行之異,跡而視之。至衆安橋左側,扣內醫張防禦門謁藥。張啟戶視之,即掩 [237] 門不納。次扣李提點鋪,李出視,延入,遂為診脈。士友俟久不出,默識兩醫之門而歸。次早訪張防禦,曰:「暮夜獨行,必非良家子女,所以卻之。」次過李鋪,聞其家有哀哭聲,問之,則曰:「昨夜一婦女扣門謁藥,去後中風而卒。」方知鬼化為婦,扣門求藥。豈非李見其美麗,動興而致然爾。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Author: Geoff Humble

Hobby translator of mosty 14th century Chinese texts. Enjoys strange tales. Image is my doodle based on an element within this work: http://archive.asia.si.edu/collections/edan/object.php?q=fsg_F1938.4

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