An Earthworm Demon 蚯蚓為妖

Qian Zizhao of Pengze County in Jiangzhou had a daughter who was still unmarried when she reached ‘the hairpin’ (i.e., the age of fifteen). Her parents came to realise that she was pregnant, and questioned her about it. She said: “Every night a beautiful youth comes out of the Heavenly Well and sleeps with me; this has been going on for half a year.” Her father and mother suspected that she might have been seduced by a demon, so gave her a length of fine thread on a needle, and instructed her to wait until she went out, and then to secretly attach it to her robe, so they could track where she had gone. The next morning they walked around and made an inspection, finding a two-cun length of thread trapped against one of the bricks in the well (a cun is about 2.5cm). Digging out a stone slab, below it they found a white earthworm, more than two chi in length (a chi is about 33 cm). When they killed it, it made a chirruping sound.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.260 (Tale 472):

為妖

江州彭澤縣潛子昭,有女及笄未婚,父母覺而有娠,詰之。乃曰:「每夜有美少年從天井中出,與同寢,今已半年矣。」父母疑為祟所惑,乃以[*糸末*]線穿針授女,令俟其去,則密縫其衣,視之何去。次早巡視,天井中磚縫外尚留線二寸許,掘開石板,下得白蚯蚓一條,長二尺許,殺之,作聲唧唧。

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).

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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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