A Doubting Heart Brings Forth a Spirit 疑心生鬼

There was formerly a Lin Ersi at the Wan’an postal relay station in the Jianning fu western garrison, who made his livelihood by selling pickled provisions. Every day, shouldering his load and going to the town for work, he had to pass through the execution ground where convicted criminals were killed. Lin Ersi always felt terror in his heart, so recklessly uttered curses to make himself feel stronger. One day he returned at dusk and as he reached the field someone approached from close behind, accompanying Lin. During their chat this person questioned Lin Ersi: “You always pass through here in the dark; can you really not fear spirits?” Lin Ersi replied: “I am a person, they’re spirits; why should I be afraid? If I do suddenly encounter them, I do have my knife.” The other said: “Although you don’t fear them, I fear them greatly.” He persisted in asking these questions; “I have you as a companion, but in case we did encounter a spirit, what should be done?” Lin stuck to his refusal to fear others, and his questioner continued, until finally the follower said: “You who travel without fearing spirits, what about having a go at turning your head and looking at me?” When Lin Ersi turned around the person turned out to be headless, at which he desperately threw aside his shoulder pole and rushed back home in terror, spending over a month in illness before he recovered. Can this be anything other than a doubting heart summoning ghostly insults?

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.243 (Tale 440):

疑心生鬼

建寧府西鎮萬安驛前有林二四者,以賣醃藏為活。每日荷擔往城生活,必須由刑人法場經過。林二四每有懼心,則肆詈以自壯。一日昏黑來歸,行到場中,背後有一人接踵而至,與林為伴。談間,因問(此處原多一「爾」字,據明刻本刪。)林二四:「爾居常暮夜過此,能不怕鬼否?」林二四答云:「我人彼鬼,吾何懼哉?卒然遇之,吾有刀耳。」其人曰:「爾雖不畏,我甚畏之。」又再三問曰:「我得爾為伴,萬一遇鬼,當如之何?」林堅以不怕他為辭,詰之至再,後一人曰:「爾道不怕鬼,試回頭看我如何?」林二四回頭,則一無頭人也,忙將擔撇了,驚走回家,病月餘而後愈。豈非疑心有以召鬼之侮乎!

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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A Demon Mud-Baby 泥孩兒怪

In Lin’an it was customary that people enjoy themselves on the lake, and many buy one another Pingjiang mud-babies, often giving them to neighbouring households and calling them Local Specialty Statues. A woman from a Yuanxi household, because she had received one of these yabei children, set it up a bed and hung a screen of coloured silk from a cross-beam, playing with and treasuring it tirelessly. One day, while having an afternoon nap, she suddenly heard a person chanting poetry: “Embroidered bedding gives long years of service, passed from hand to hand; fragrant bed-curtains may be handed on in quick succession.” When she awoke, she couldn’t see anyone. That night, waking a little in the small hours, she again heard someone chant the same couplet. Woken with a start, in the dim moonlight she saw a teenager stepping through the screen from the west, and leapt up in alarm. It advanced and comforted her: “Don’t be frightened; I live not far from here, you have yearned for a child for such a long time, your soul and spirit have brought you to this. Do not wait, open the gates and enter.” She rose and saw that the door was closed just as before. The woman realised that he was a spirit, but could not resist combining with him. At times when the night was dark and the moon bright, that youth would sometimes come and go, having left her a gold ring. The woman had secretly placed it in a box, and after several days realised that it was actually just dirt; she was greatly shocked. Suddenly she saw that the gold ring was missing from the yabei child’s left upper arm, and knew that it was a demon, so she smashed it and threw the fragments in the river; the demon then vanished.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.232 (Tale 419):

泥孩兒怪

臨安風俗,嬉遊湖上者,相尚多買平江泥孩兒,仍與鄰家,謂之土宜像。院西有一民家女,因得壓被孩兒,歸置於牀屏綵橋之上,玩弄愛惜無厭。一日午睡,忽聞有人歌詩云:「繡被長年勞轉展,香幃還許暫偎隨。」及覺,不見有人。是夕,中夜睡微醒,復聞有歌前詩句。驚覺,月影朦朧,見一少年侵步帳西,女子驚起。進而撫之曰:「毋恐,我所居去此不遠,慕子之久,神魂到此,不待啟關而入。」起視扃鑰如故。女知其神,不得已與之合焉。正當風清月白之時,此子時復而來,因遺金環。女密投箱篋中,數日見金環實土為之,女心大驚。忽見壓被孩兒左臂上金環不存,知此為怪,遂碎而投諸河,其怪遂絕。

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)

A closely comparable tale is found in Tian Rucheng 田汝成, Xihu Youlan Zhi Yu 西湖遊覽志餘 (A Continued Record of Sightseeing at West Lake), (Shanghai: Shanghai Guji Chubanshe, 1980), 26.477-78:

宋時,臨安風俗,嬉遊湖上者,競買泥孩、鸎歌花、湖船回家,分送鄰里,名曰湖上土宜。象院西一民家女,買得一壓被孩兒,歸置屛橋之上,玩弄不厭。一日午睡,忽聞有歌詩者云:『繡被 [478] 長年勞展轉,香幃還許暫偎隨。』及覺,不見有人。是夜將半,復聞歌聲,時月影朦朧,見一少年,漸近帳前,女子驚起,少年進撫之曰:『毋恐,我所居,去此不遠,慕子姿色,神魂到此,人無知者。』女亦愛其丰采,遂與合焉。因遺女金環,女密置箱篋。明日,啓篋視環,乃土造者。女大驚,忽見壓被孩兒左臂失去金環,遂碎之,其怪乃絶。

A Corpse Dances 死屍鼓舞

In Hedong there was a villager whose wife had died recently and had not yet been prepared for her coffin. When night fell, his family suddenly became aware of a sound like music approaching slowly; when it reached the hall, her corpse began to move. A little layer, the music seemed to enter the roof of the hall, and her body then rose and danced. As the melody gradually moved away, the corpse turned and pirouetted out through the gates, following the as it departed. Her family were shocked and terrified, but the night was moonless and they did not dare pursue her. That same night the villager had just returned and, realising what had happened, took up a staff and followed her to a grove of tombs, and after about five or six li, again heard the music coming from a cypress grove. Drawing near to the trees, there was the glimmer of a fire, and the corpse was dancing next to it. The villager grasped his staff and beat the corpse until it fell on the ground. The music stopped, too, and he then returned, bearing the body in his back.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.241 (Tale 435):

死屍鼓舞

河東有一村民,妻新死未殮。日暮,其家忽覺有樂聲漸近,至庭宇,屍亦微動。少焉,樂聲入房,如在梁棟間,屍遂起舞。樂聲漸出,屍倒旋出門,隨樂聲而去。其家驚懼,時月黑不敢尋逐。將夜,村民方歸,知之,乃持杖逐至一墓林,約五六里,復聞樂聲在一柏林上,及近樹之下,有火熒然,屍方舞矣。村民持杖擊屍倒地,樂聲亦住,遂負屍而返。

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).

Sprites and Goblins of Rongzhou 融州魍魎

On the first day of the first moon in the yiwei year of the Chunxi era (25 January, 1175), sprites and goblins were seen in the county seat of Rongshui County in Rongzhou; they cast the shadows of people, but were not human in form, being quite naked and with dishevelled hair, and they numbered in uncountable tens of thousands. [232] A servitor brought some spirit money and burnt it; the shadows eventually approached the flames. Then they scattered again in disorder, but after a little while they all disappeared. That day, at a shrine outside the city walls, fireworks suddenly rocketed from the earth straight into the sky, exploding all day and then being extinguished, leaving the whole prefecture in shock and alarm.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.231-32 (Tale 416):

融州魍魎

淳熙乙未正月旦日,魍魎見於融州融水縣治,有人之影,無人之形,裸死而披髮者無萬數。 [232] 有一手力持紙錢焚之,影竟赴火。又復散亂,有頃乃沒。是日,城外有神廟,忽煙火自地中直出衝天,經日而滅,一郡大驚。

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).