A Fox Takes the Form of a Dead Person 狐戀亡人

Chen Chengwu’s household was poor, without an income, and he lived alone in a small house, but having once seen a village woman of great beauty, his heart often cherished her memory. One evening the woman suddenly arrived before his narrow bed, saying: “My heart has long wished to be united with you, but there are many people in my home, and I could not come and go. Now they have all gone away, so I came especially to visit you.” Chen was delighted to be united with her, his tender sentiments intense, quite unaware that she was a disembodied spirit. Enjoying contact from dawn to dusk, his face grew sallow and drawn, and he fell ill and died. Upon his death those who came to prepare his funeral saw only an elderly fox (i.e., instead of a woman), cradling its head in its paws by Chen’s grave and howling in a most sorrowful way. They raised the coffin and approached the fire, and the fox followed them, disappearing from view as soon as it reached the flames, leaving no trace.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.249 (Tale 450):

狐戀亡人

陳承務家貧無取資,獨處小室,曾見一村婦有色,心常思慕。一夕婦忽至榻前,曰:「吾心欲與子合久矣,奈屋內人稠,不能出入。今皆他出,特來相訪。」陳喜與合,情意稠密,莫知其為人鬼也。朝暮往來,面色黃瘁,感疾而卒。及其死也,為治喪事,但見老狐扶頭坐於陳喪之側,嗚嗚聲有悲哀之狀。舉棺就火,狐(「狐」原作「婦」,據明刻本改。)亦隨之,至火滅方不見其蹤影。

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 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).

A Ghostly Hand Through the Window 鬼手入窗

As a youth, Liang, Duke Ma, the Junior Guardian[1] was once reading a book beneath a lamp and close to a window, when suddenly a great hand like a door leaf pushed through the lattice into the window. The next night it came again, but the gentleman moistened his writing brush in orpiment water, and wrote his signature in large script. From outside the window came a loud call: “Wash it off for me quickly, then you won’t come to harm.” The gentleman paid no attention but went to bed. Before long it had become very angry, seeking with ever more urgency to wash it away, but the gentleman paid no attention. Just before dawn, it made plaintive wails and was quite unable to withdraw its hand, saying: “The gentleman will be a great noble, I was just testing the gentleman; how can the gentleman bear my extremity? Can the gentleman alone be unaware of the affair of Wen Jiao and the rhino horn?”[2] The gentleman then came to a sudden realisation, washing away his signature with water, and the hand then shrank and withdrew; he looked but there was nothing to see.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.237 (Tale 427):

鬼手入窗

馬少保公亮少時,臨窗燭下閱書,忽有大手如扇,自櫺窗穿入。次夜又至,公以筆濡雌黃水,大書花押,窗外大呼:「速為我滌去,不然禍及於汝。」公不聽而寢。有頃怒甚,求為滌去愈急,公不之顧。將曉,哀鳴而手不能縮耳,曰:「公將大貴,姑以試公,公何忍致我極地耶!公獨不見溫嶠然犀事乎!」公大悟,以水滌去花押,手方縮去,視之亦無所見。

[1] The biography of Ma Liang 馬亮, courtesy name Shuming 叔明, is found at Songshi 298.9915-17. The Huhai account is considerably abbreviated compared to a previous (Song-era) telling. Compare Zhang Shizheng 張師正, Kuoyizhi 括異志 (Inclusive Reports on Strange Matters) (Project Gutenberg version):

Junior Guardian Ma 馬少保

The Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent Duke Ma Liang himself related that in his youth he studied at a Buddhist monastery outside the walls of Luzhou. One night, when reading beneath a lamp close to a window, there was a huge hand like a door leaf that extended before him, as if on a great rope. The gentleman did not look at it, but continued to peruse his books as before. The same happened night after night. The gentleman thus told people, and a Daoist priest said: “I have often heard that spirirs fear red orpiment; you should try to get rid of it with that.” He thus ground red orpiment and soaked it in water, then secretly placed it close by on a table. That evening, when the huge hand arrived again, the gentleman used a brush moistened in red orpiment and wrote on it the single large character cao (‘grass’). When he had finished writing, a great yell came from outside the window: “Wash it off quickly, if not, misfortune will reach you!” The gentleman carried on as before, not listening, and then, leaving the lamp, went to bed. Before long it became extremely angry, and demanded all the more urgently that it be washed off; the gentleman did not respond. As dawn arrived, its cries became ever more plaintive, but it could not withdraw, so spoke again: “The gentleman will be greatly distinguished; I won’t scare other people; I only wanted to joke, but offended the gentleman; how can you stand to see me so extremely terrified? I have certainly caused offence, but, if the conditions of the nether world are revealed to the world through the gentleman’s action that will not be to the gentleman’s profit. Is the gentleman alone unaware of Wen Jiao’s burning the rhino horn to light cow island?” The gentleman, coming to a sudden realisation, then washed off the ‘grass’ character with water, and warned the creature not to return and bother people in future; the monster yielded gratefully and departed. The Jinshi scholar Wei Tai reported that Duke Ma had often spoken of this to his grandfather.

馬少保

太子少保馬公亮自言:少肄業於廬州城外佛寺,一夕,臨窗燭下閱書,有大手如扇自窗伸於公前,若有所索。公不為視,閱書如故,如是比夜而至。公因語人,有道士云:「素聞鬼畏雄黃,可試以辟之。」公乃研雄黃漬水,密置案上。是夕大手又至,公遽以筆濡雄黃,大書一「草」字。書畢,聞窗外大呼曰:「速為我滌去。不然,禍及與汝!」公雅不為聽,停燭而寢。有頃,怒甚,而索滌愈急,公不應。逮曉,更哀鳴而不能縮,且曰:「公將大貴,我且不為他怪,徒以相?而犯公,何忍遽致我於極地耶?我固得罪,而幽冥之狀由公以彰暴於世,亦非公之利也。公獨不見溫嶠犀照牛渚之事乎?」公大悟,即以水滌去「草」字,且戒他日勿復擾人,怪遜謝而去。進士魏泰言馬公嘗說於其祖云。

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/27092/27092-0.txt (accessed 21/01/18)

[2] This refers to the account in the Jinshu 晉書 biography for Wen Jiao 溫嶠 (288-329 CE, courtesy name Taizhen 泰真), which relates his death to his exposure of water spirits by illuminating them with a burning rhino horn, and a subsequent warning about such behaviour in a dream. The biography is found at Jinshu 67.1785-96, and the incident at 67.1795.

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 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):

鬼扣醫門

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).

A Spirit Steals Mantou 鬼偷饅頭

The Xiang household of Yongjia was occupied by a spirit; sometimes this thing, shaped like a person with disheveled hair, appeared and disappeared across their home, and called itself ‘Grand Duke’. The Xiangs thought this normal, and did not recognise its anomalous nature. Whatever they wanted, they had only to call to the Grand Duke in the kitchen, and that thing would then appear. When Xiang’s wife became pregnant, she wished to eat a plain meal of mantou steamed buns, and so called to the Grand Duke, and he appeared after the second watch (9-12pm) bearing a steamer layer of piping hot mantou, spreading warm vapour. Several days later, news spread that people at the Qichi ferry crossing were missing a steamer layer of mantou from a festival of offerings to earth and water. Later, Xiang’s wife gave birth to a child; it lacked eyebrows and eyes, but had a mouth and could suckle; first she wanted to drown it, but suddenly heard the Grand Duke speak out of thin air: “The child must not be drowned; feed it for the time being, and soon there will be reason for gratitude.” After more than two months had passed, Mrs Xiang was cuddling the baby on her bed, when the Grand Duke suddenly placed two silver tablets on the bed, seized the child and left; afterwards this strangeness stopped.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.236 (Tale 425):

鬼偷饅頭

永嘉項家為邪神所據,時有一物,人形而蓬首,出沒其家,自呼曰「大公」。項以為常,不為怪異。凡有所求,只於廚間呼大公,物則隨至。項妻有孕,想齋饅頭食,遂叫大公一聲,至二更餘,捧一層蒸饅頭而來,蒸氣尚暖。越數日,人傳七尺渡頭人家設水陸齋,失了饅頭一層。後項婦生一子如冬瓜狀,無眉目,但有口能乳,方欲溺之,忽聞大公空中作聲曰:「子不可溺,權以乳哺,當有以謝。」踰兩月,項婦方抱子在牀,忽大公置白金二笏於牀,奪抱此子而去,後其怪亦息。

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).

Spirits Drink in the Watchtower 鬼飲譙樓

Vice Minister Yue Ke, the grandson of Wu Mu,[1] administered Jiaxing Fu. For several nights the drums in the watchtower failed to sound, so he reproached those charged with the night watch, who said: “Each night when the watches start, there are [236] five people who go to the tower to drink, their dishes and utensils all gold and silver, spreading out rare delicacies. They say they are relatives of the Vice Minister, so we dare not sound the watches.” The prefectural chief commanded that they return that evening and report back in secret. That night the chief sat in the Qingxiang building, ordering that two Record-Keepers bring his seal of office before him, and chose twenty seasoned soldiers, each fully armed and waiting at the foot of the tower. At midnight the watch drummers came to report, saying that the drinking party was taking place in the watchtower. The chief’s Record-Keeper took up his seal of office and stood before them, saying: “Vice-Minister Yue, Governor of Jiaxing Fu, wishes to meet you.” The five people then scattered in alarm. The governor sat among them, picking up and inspecting the utensils; all were real silver and gold, and he ruled that they be confiscated for public use in the government stores, and the demonic incidents then stopped.

[1] This probably refers to Song general Yue Fei 岳飛 (1103-42), famed for his resistance to the Jin, who received the posthumous title Wumu. See Songshi, 365.11375-95.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.235-36 (Tale 424):

鬼飲譙樓

岳侍郎珂,武穆之孫,知嘉興府。譙樓數夜更鼓不鳴,責問直更者,曰:「每夜一更時分,有 [236] 五人到樓飲酒,皆金銀器皿,羅列珍味,稱係侍郎親眷,所以不敢打更。」太守分付,謂今晚再來,當密通報。是夜太守坐清香樓,命提控官兩人攜府印來前,擇精兵二十人,各執器械在樓下伺候。中夜直更者果來報,謂正在譙樓飲酒。守令提控攜印而前曰:「知嘉興府岳侍郎請相見。」其五人者即為驚散。守據中坐,取視器皿,皆真金銀器,判付公使庫公用,邪魅遂息。

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 Person Transformed into a Tiger 人變虎

Wang Yong, of Black Fish Gorge, in Wangcheng County, Guo Prefecture, was a charcoal-burner by trade. He often walked in the valley by the stream and saw two black fish, a little over a chi (c. 33cm) in length, swimming on top of the water. Yong, tired and hungry from cutting wood, then gutted and ate one of them. His younger brother was shocked and said: “This fish is a spirit being belonging to the valley; how could my elder brother kill it?” Soon after this, his wife brought food to them, but Yong kept on wielding his axe, and when he did eventually turn around, his wife realised that his appearance had changed, and called his brother over to look at him; Yong suddenly shed his clothes, calling and leaping, and, changed into a tiger, headed straight for the mountains. He would sometimes kill roe deer and stags, throwing them into the house at night; he was like this for two years.

One day at dusk he knocked on the door and announced himself, saying: “I am Wang Yong.” His younger brother replied: “My elder brother has been transformed into a tiger for three years now; what ghost is taking my brother’s [230] name?” He spoke again: “I previously killed a black fish; the officials of the underworld banished me as a tiger, and, because of harming people, they gave me a hundred lashes; now I have obtained return to my body; you have a look, there is no doubt.” His younger brother was delighted, hastily opening the door. He saw a person with a head just like a tiger’s and died of fright. The whole family screamed and yelled, and fled, and in the end the villagers beat him to death. His wife’s family confirmed that his body bore a distinctive black mark, and that it was truly Wang Yong; his head never changed back.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.229-30 (Tale 412):

人變虎

虢州王城縣黑魚谷王用,業燒炭。於谷中有水方數步,常見二黑魚,長尺餘,遊於水上。用伐木饑困,遂宰一食之。其弟驚曰:「此魚乃谷中靈物,兄奈何殺之?」有頃其妻餉之,用運斤不已,久乃轉面,妻覺狀貌有異,呼其弟視之,忽脫衣號躍,變為虎焉。徑入山,時殺麞鹿,夜擲於家,如此二年。一日昏暮,叩門自鳴曰:「我王用也。」弟應曰:「我兄變為虎三年矣,何鬼假吾兄 [230] 姓名?」又曰:「我往年殺黑魚,冥官謫為虎,因傷人,又笞予一百,得復人身,汝視予,無疑也。」弟喜,遽開門,見一人,頭猶是虎,因怖死。舉家叫呼奔避,竟為村人格殺之。其妻屬驗其身有黑志,信王用也,但首未變爾。

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).