A Guangling Clerk 廣陵吏人

A clerk from Guangling, surnamed Zhao, was sleeping alone in a chamber through the summer heat. Around midnight, he suddenly saw a tall person in a yellow robe enter via the door, followed by seven much smaller people, also wearing yellow. The stranger muttered to himself: “Looked everywhere without result, and now here, eh?” He shouted at him to get up, and said: “This can now be carried out.” One of the yellow-robed people stepped forwards and said: “This life is not yet finished, and we cannot just take it away. It would be better to make a record of this.” The taller person then reached inside his robe and brought out a seal. They made a seal impression on his left arm and departed. When dawn came he inspected it. The seal stuck closely to his skin, and its characters were like the ancient seal script. The lower character was shi 識 ‘knowledge’, the right looked like xian 仙 ‘immortal’, the left like ji 記 ‘record’, but the one above that could not be read. It is not known how Zhao ended up.

From Jishenlu.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), viii, 353.2800:

廣陵吏人

廣陵吏姓趙。當暑。獨寢一室。中夜。忽見大黃衣人自門而入。從小黃衣七人。謂己曰。處處尋不得。乃在此耶。叱起之。曰。可以行矣。一黃衣前曰。天年未盡。未可遽行。宜有以記之可也。大人即探懷。出一印。印其左臂而去。及明視之。印文著肉。字若古篆。識其下。右若仙字。左若記字。其上不可識。趙後不知所終。出稽神錄

You Shizi 游氏子

In the northern corner of Xudu’s western district there stood the residence of General Zhao. After the patriarch’s passing, his descendants had scattered. The place then became inauspicious, and nobody dared live there. A close friend of theirs then posted a notice on the village gates, reading: ‘If someone dares reside there, they may consider it a gift.’ At the beginning of the Qianfu era (874-80 CE), there came along one You Shizi, fierce and stubborn by nature, braver and quicker than most. On seeing the notice, he said: “Your humble servant is a brave warrior. Even if there are strange demons and weird spirits, I’ll certainly control them.” It was then the height of summer, and, when night fell, he took up his sword and entered. The house was deep and silent, and the entrance hall long and broad. You Shizi laid out his mat in the courtyard, arranged his summer robe and sat. When the end of the first watch had been sounded, all was silent, and there had been no alarms. You Shizi grew weary, so he used his sword as a pillow and lay down facing the hall.

Just as the half watch was about to sound, he suddenly heard a ga-ya sound as the rear gate opened. Candles were lit in even lines, and several dozen servants sprinkled water and swept the hall, opening the high windows, stretching out the scarlet curtains and embroidered drapes, laying out seating mats and precious objects. Strange and rare fragrances wafted among the eaves and pillars. You’s heart told him that these were only minor spirits, and he did not yet feel moved to use force against them. He waited to watch them through to the finish. After a short while, they took up musical instruments, and several dozen people dressed in red and purple ascended the stairs from the eastern wing. Several dozen singers and dancers emerged from behind the hall and entered through the front. Those in the purple robes remained [2786] in front, and people in red, green and white clothing formed a second layer. A further twenty or more people talked and laughed together happily, bowing to one another and sitting down. At this strings and pipes struck up together, glasses were raised and toasts shared as the dancers moved in unison.

You Shizi wanted to charge forward and seize their ringleader. He was about to get up when he felt something pressing down between his thighs. It was cold and it was heavy, and he simply could not rise. He wanted to shout out, but his mouth trembled, unable to make a sound, so he watched the happy celebrations continue on until a loud, loud drum sounded. At this the sitting mats dispersed, the lights and fires were all doused, and all was as still as it had first been. You Shizi was bathed in sweat, his heart racing, as he crawled prostrate to the exit. Only long after reaching the gate could he speak once more. In the end nobody dared to live in the house.

From Sanshui xiaodu.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), viii, 352.2785-86

游氏子

許都城西之北陬。有趙將軍宅。主父既沒。子孫流移。其處遂凶。莫敢居者。親近乃牓於里門曰。有居得者。便相奉。乾符初。許有游氏子者。性剛悍。拳捷過人。見牓曰。僕猛士也。縱奇妖異鬼。必有以制之。時盛夏。既夕。携劍而入。室宇深邃。前庭廣袤。游氏子設簟庭中。絺綌而坐。一鼓盡。聞寂無驚。游氏子倦。乃枕劍面堂而臥。再鼓將半。忽聞軋然開後門聲。蠟炬齊列。有役夫數十。於堂中洒掃。闢前軒。張朱簾繡幕。陳筵席寶器。異香馥於簷楹。游子心謂此小魅耳。未欲迫之。將觀其終。少頃。執樂器。紆朱紫者數十輩。自東廂升階。歌舞妓數十輩自後堂出。入於前堂。紫衣者居 [2786] 前。朱綠衣白衣者次之。亦二十許人。言笑自若。揖讓而坐。於是絲竹合奏。飛觴舉白。歌舞間作。游氏子欲前突。擒其渠魁。將起。乃覺髀間為物所壓。冷且重。不能興。欲大叫。口哆而不能聲。但觀堂上歡洽。直至嚴鼓。席方散。燈火既滅。寂爾如初。游氏子駭汗心悸。匍伏而出。至里門。良久方能語。其宅後卒無敢居者。出三水小牘

Wang Kun 王坤

In the spring of the fourth year Dazhong (850 CE), Wang Kun of Taiyuan was serving as Doctor to the National University. His maidservant, Qing Yun, had died several years before this, but one night he suddenly dreamed that Qing Yun arrived before his bed. Kun was extremely afraid, but rose and questioned her. Qing Yun said: “Your servant has not been a human for several years now, and found myself missing my mortal life, as if I was bound but had not forgotten my release. This evening I received the opportunity to serve by your side, and am very pleased to see you.” Kun was muddled, as if he was drunk, and did not realize that she was a spirit. Qing Yun then led Kun out through the doorway. The gate had already been locked, but she guided Kun through a crevice and he passed through without harm. They reached the centre of the road, and paced back and forth under the moon.

After some time had passed, Kun suddenly felt hungry, and told Qing Yun. Qing Yun replied: “Is there a friend in the village who would give to my darling? Point them out and we’ll ask them for food.” Kun had long been friends with the Scholar to the Imperial College Shi Guan, and he too resided in the village, so Kun went there with her. When they reached Guan’s gate, it was already closed and bolted. Qing Yun knocked upon it, and after a little while the gatekeeper opened a leaf of the door and looked out, but said: “I just heard a knock on the gate, but now I look all is quiet, with nothing to see. How can that be?” He closed the leaf again, but Qing Yun knocked on it once more, and then again, for a third time. The gatekeeper asked, in angry tones: “How come these evil spirits always come to knock on our door?” He then spat and cursed them. Qing Yun explained to Kun: “Mr Shi has already gone to sleep. We certainly can’t call on him now. I hope the gentleman can suggest somewhere else.” At that time there was a junior clerk of the Imperial College who was also from the same village. When he went out he often passed the other’s gate, and the clerk would often pass on his superior’s monthly salary and slips of paper reporting new [2779] appointments. Kun trusted him implicitly.

When they arrived together at his house, they saw one leaf of the door open, and someone carrying a jar of water to scatter onto the street. Qing Yun said: “We should enter with him.” When they had stepped inside, they saw that the junior clerk was dining with several other people. Initially, Kun stood in the courtyard, thinking that the clerk would descend the steps and bow to him, but after some time the clerk still hadn’t given any sign of such courtesy. Presently they saw a maid carrying noodle soup up the steps. Qing Yun struck the servant on the back, at which she fell on the steps, and the soup was all spilled. The clerk, his wife and servants all leapt up, saying fearfully: “This is a malign attack!” They then hurriedly summoned a spirit-medium. The medium told them: “There’s someone there, with a red official’s knee-cover and a silver seal, standing before us in the courtyard.” They therefore made offerings to him, so Kun and Qing Yun sat down together. When the food was finished, they set out together, and the female medium accompanied them to the gate, burning spirit-money beside the entrance. At this Qing Yun addressed Kun: “The gentleman should accompany your servant and depart.” Kun therefore followed her into the village. He looked around and saw that it was the start of summer.

When they reached open countryside in the outskirts after several dozen li, they came to a tomb. Qing Yun said: “This is where your servant dwells. The gentleman should follow and enter.” The mouth of the grave was pitch black and he could not make anything out. Suddenly he awoke in palpitations of pure terror, his back sweating and his body shaking all over. By then the dawn had already broken, but his heart was full of revulsion towards the dream, and he dared not tell anyone about it. That day, he therefore decided to invite Shi Guan. When they had sat down together, Guan told him: “Last night there was a spirit that knocked at my gate three times; we sent people to look but all was quiet and nobody was there. When dawn broke I crossed to see the junior clerk, and found the remains of spirit money. I stood and summoned the clerk to ask about it, and the clerk told me: ‘Your servant had a dinner party last night, and there was a sudden malign attack on our maid. The spirit-medium told us we were haunted by a spirit, so we made offerings in the courtyard. This is the burnt paper.'” All of this was exactly the same as Kun’s dream. Kun grew ever more afraid, so informed his wife and children. In the winter of that year, he did indeed die.

From Xuanshizhi.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), viii, 351.2778-79

王坤

太原王坤。大中四年春為國子博士。有婢輕雲。卒數年矣。一夕。忽夢輕雲至榻前。坤甚懼。起而訊之。輕雲曰。某自不為人數年矣。嘗念平生時。若縶而不忘解也。今夕得奉左右。亦幸會耳。坤懵然若醉。不寤為鬼也。輕雲即引坤出門。門已扃鐍。隙中導坤而過。曾無礙。行至衢中。步月徘徊。久之。坤忽飢。語於輕雲。輕雲曰。里中人有與郎善者乎。可以詣而求食也。坤素與太學博士石貫善。又同里居。坤因與偕行。至貫門。而門已鍵閉。輕雲叩之。有頃。閽者啟扉曰。向聞叩門。今寂無覩。何也。因闔扉。輕雲又扣之。如是者三。閽者怒曰。厲鬼安得輒扣吾門。且唾且罵之。輕白坤云。石生已寢。固不可詣矣。願郎更詣他所。時有國子監小吏。亦同里。每出。常經其門。吏與主月俸及條報除 [2779] 授。坤甚委信之。因與俱至其家。方見啟扉。有一人持水缶。注入衢中。輕雲曰。可偕入。既入。見小吏與數人會食。初。坤立於庭。以為小吏必降階迎拜。既而小吏不禮。俄見一婢捧湯餅登階。輕雲即毆婢背。遽仆於階。湯餅盡覆。小吏與妻奴俱起。驚曰。中惡。即急召巫者。巫曰。有一人。朱紱銀印。立於庭前。因祭之。坤與輕雲俱就坐。食已而偕去。女巫送到門。焚紙錢於門側。輕雲謂坤曰。郎可偕某而行。坤即隨出里中。望啟夏而去。至郊野數十里。見一墓。輕雲曰。此妾所居。郎可隨而入焉。坤即俛首曲躬而入。墓口曛黑不可辨。忽悸然驚寤。背汗股慄。時天已曉。心惡其夢。不敢語於人。是日。因召〈(明鈔本「召」作「訪」。)〉石貫。既坐。貫曰。昨夕有鬼扣吾門者三。遣視之。寂無所覩。至曉。過小吏。則有焚紙錢跡。即立召小吏。訊其事。小吏曰。某昨夕方會食。忽有婢中惡。巫云。鬼為祟。由是設祭於庭。焚紙於此。盡與坤夢同。坤益懼。因告妻孥。是歲冬。果卒。出宣室志

The Henggong Fish 橫公魚

In the northern wastes there is a Lake Shi, a thousand li on each side. The banks are over five zhang high (one zhang is c. 3.3m), and it is permanently frozen, thawing only for forty or fifty days in summer. There lives the Henggong Fish, seven to eight chi in length (more than 2 metres), shaped like a carp and red. In daytime they stay in the water, but at night take human form. Stabbing will not pierce them, boiling will not kill them. Only a fire of two dark plum branches will finish them off. Eating them will halt illness caused by malign influence.

From Shenyilu.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), x, 464.3822:

北方荒中有石湖。方千里。岸深五丈餘。恒氷。唯夏至左右五六十日解耳。有橫公魚。長七八尺。形如鯉而赤。晝在水中。夜化為人。刺之不入。煮之不死。以烏梅二枚煮之則死。食之可止邪病。出神異錄

Frogs Of The Moonlight Pool 玄陰池蛙

Someone called Shi Xian was registered in Taiyuan, making his living in trade, and he often travelled with goods to Daibei. In the summer of the second year Changqing (822 CE), he was travelling through the Yanmenguan. Just then the summer heat was especially intense, so he lay down beneath a large tree. He suddenly dreamed of a monk, with wasp-fierce eyes and wearing a patched jacket and robe, very strange in his body-shape, who came before Xian and addressed him: “Our hut is to the south of Wutaishan, and there is the Qionglin Pond, far from the world of mortals, and truly a place for a group of monks to avoid the summer heat. Will our lucky benefactor accompany me there? If unable to, I can see that my benefactor is afflicted by the heat and close to death; [2] would that not be a cause for regret?” Xian was extremely bothered by the temperature, and, as the monk also talked with him of future events, he addressed the monk: “I am willing to go with the master.” The monk then led Xian to the west, and, going several li, there was indeed the Qionglin Pond, and he saw a group of monks in the water. Xian marvelled at this and questioned them, at which the monk said: “This is the moonlight pool. Therefore my disciples bathe in it, and also wash away the great heat.” At this he led Xian around the pond. Xian merely marvelled at the group of monks in the water, and also noticed that none of their forms were particularly different. Before long dusk fell and one of the monks said: “The gracious benefactor should listen to us disciples as we chant scripture.” At this Xian stood by the poolside, and the crowd of monks united their voices in the water and made a great clamour. After a moment, a monk pulled him by the hand, saying: “The gracious benefactor should bathe with us in the moonlight pond; be careful but have no fear.” Xian thus followed the monks into the water, but suddenly felt a great chill over his whole body, shivering and shuddering. At this he awoke with a great shock, to find himself lying back beneath the great tree, with his clothes quite soaking wet, shivering in extreme cold. Night had already fallen when he reached the village hostel. When the next day dawned, his illness had abated slightly, so he took to the road, and along the way he heard the croaking of frogs, sounding just like the monks’ scripture chant. He therefore set out to find them, and after going a few li, came across the Qionglin Pond, where there were very many frogs. That pond was indeed the moonlight pond, and the group of monks were just a bunch of frogs. Xian said: “These frogs can change their shape by magic to delude people; this is nothing short of demonic!” He then killed them all.

Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi Zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), 1.1-2 (Tale 2):

玄陰池蛙

有石憲者,其籍編太原,以商為業,常行貨於代北。長慶二年夏中於雁門關行道中,時暑方甚,因偃於大木下。忽夢一僧,蜂目,被褐衲,其狀甚異,來憲前,謂曰:「我廬於五臺山之南,有窮林積水,出塵俗甚遠,實羣僧清暑之地。檀越幸偕我而遊乎?卽不能,吾見檀越病熱且死,得 [2] 無悔於心耶?」憲以時暑方盛,僧且以禍福語相動,因謂僧曰:「願與師偕往。」於是其僧引憲西去,且數里,果有窮林積水,見羣僧在水中。憲怪而問之,僧曰:「此玄陰池。故我徒浴於中,且以蕩炎燠。」於是引憲環池行。憲獨怪羣僧在水中,又其狀貌無一異者。已而天暮,有一僧曰:「檀越可聽吾徒之梵音也。」於是憲立池旁,羣僧卽於水中合聲而譟。僅食頃,有一僧挈手曰:「檀越與吾偕浴於玄陰池,慎無懼。」憲卽隋僧入池中,忽覺一身盡冷,噤而戰。由是驚悟。見己卧於大木下,衣盡濕,而寒慄且甚。時已日暮,卽抵村舍中。至明日,病稍愈。因行於道,聞道中忽有蛙鳴,甚類羣僧之梵音。於是徑往尋之,行數里,見窮林積水,有蛙甚多。其水果名玄陰池者,其僧乃羣蛙爾。憲曰:「此蛙能幻形以惑於人,豈非怪之尤者乎!」於是盡殺之。

又見《廣記》卷四七六,題為《石憲》;《紺珠集》卷五,題為《玄陰池》;《類說》卷二三,題為《玄陰池》;《說郛》卷六。《紺珠集》、《類說》、《說郛》引均為節文。

Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi Zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination) in Du yi zhi, Xuanshi Zhi 獨異志,宣室志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories, Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), edited by Zhang Yongqin 张永钦 and Hou Zhiming 侯志明 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983)

The version transmitted in the Taiping Guangji varies slightly from this:

Shi Xian 石憲

Someone called Shi Xian was registered in Taiyuan, making his living in trade, and often trading in Daibei. In the summer of the second year Changqing (822 CE), he was travelling through the Yanmenguan. Just then the summer heat was especially intense, so he lay down beneath a large tree. He suddenly dreamed of a monk, with wasp-fierce eyes and wearing a patched jacket and robe, very strange in his body-shape, who came before Xian and addressed Xian, saying: “Our hut is to the south of Wutaishan, and there is the Qionglin Pond, far from the world of mortals, and truly a place for a group of monks to avoid the summer heat. Will our lucky benefactor accompany me there? If unable to, I can see that my benefactor is afflicted by the heat and close to death; [2] would that not be a cause for regret?” Xian was extremely bothered by the temperature, and, as the monk also talked with him of future events, he addressed the monk: “I am willing to go with the master.” The monk then led Xian going west, and, going several li, there was indeed the Qionglin Pond, and he saw a group of monks in the water. Xian marvelled at this and questioned them, at which the monk said: “This is the moonlight pool. Therefore my disciples bathe in it, and also wash away the great heat.” At this he led Xian around the pond. Xian merely marvelled at the group of monks in the water, and also noticed that none of their forms were particularly different. Before long dusk fell and one of the monks said: “The gracious benefactor should listen to us disciples as we chant scripture.” At this Xian stood above the pond, and the crowd of monks united their voices in the water and made a great clamour. After a moment, a monk pulled him by the hand, saying: “The gracious benefactor should bathe with us in the moonlight pond; be careful but have no fear.” Xian thus followed the monks into the water, but suddenly felt a great chill over his whole body, shivering and shuddering. At this he awoke with a great shock, to find himself lying back beneath the great tree, with his clothes quite soaking wet, shivering in extreme cold. Night had already fallen when he reached the village hostel. When the next day dawned, his illness had abated slightly, so he took to the road, and along the way he heard the croaking of frogs, sounding just like the monks’ scripture chant. He therefore set out to find them, and after going a few li, came across the Qionglin Pond, where there were very many frogs. That pond was indeed the moonlight pond, and the group of monks were just a bunch of frogs. Xian said: “These frogs can change their shape by magic to move people; this is nothing short of demonic!” He then killed them all. From Xuanshizhi.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Period of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), x, 476.3917:

石憲

有石憲者。其籍編太原。以商為業。常貨於代北。長慶二年夏中。雁門關行道中。時暑方盛。因偃於大木下。忽夢一僧。蜂目被褐衲。其狀甚異。來憲前。謂憲曰。我廬於五臺山之南。有窮林積水。出塵俗甚遠。實羣僧清暑之地。檀越幸偕我而遊乎。卽不能。吾見檀越病熱且死。得無悔於心耶。憲以時暑方盛。僧且以禍福語相動。因謂僧曰。願與師偕去。於是其僧引憲西去。且數里。果有窮林積水。見羣僧在水中。憲怪而問之。僧曰。此玄陰池。故我徒浴於中。且以蕩炎燠。於是引憲環池行。憲獨怪羣僧在水中。又其狀貌無一異者。已而天暮。有一僧曰。檀越可聽吾徒之梵音也。於是憲立池上。羣僧卽於水中合聲而譟。僅食頃。有一僧挈手曰。檀越與吾偕浴於玄陰池。慎無懼。憲卽隋僧入池中。忽覺一身盡冷噤而戰。由是驚悟。見己卧於大木下。衣盡濕。而寒慄且甚。時已日暮。卽抵村舍中。至明日。病稍愈。因行於道。聞道中忽有蛙鳴。甚類羣僧之梵音。於是徑往尋之。行數里。窮林積水。有蛙甚多。其水果名玄陰池者。其僧乃羣蛙。而憲曰。此蛙能易形以感於人。豈非怪尤者乎。於是盡殺之。出宣室志

A Temple Spirit Seizes A Fan 廟鬼奪人扇

Before Fan Zhi, Duke of Lu (911-964 CE), became influential, he was seated in a teahouse in Fengqiu, holding a fan on which was inscribed ‘The heat of summer drives out corrupt officials; a pure breeze brings back the departed.’ A strange and ugly figure suddenly appeared before him and bowed, saying: “How can the injustice of corrupt government end like the summer heat? Someday the gentleman will have to think deeply about this matter.” It then picked up the fan and departed. The gentleman was left sorrowful and unable to fathom the matter. Several days after, he passed a temple and saw a short spirit figure made of earth and wood – looking just like the strange and ugly person from the teahouse – holding his fan in its hands; the gentleman was astonished by this. Afterwards, on attaining a position of power, his first action was to consult on settling the [226] unified code of punishment.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.225-26 (Tale 402):

廟鬼奪人扇

范魯公質未顯時,坐封丘茶肆,手持扇,偶題「大暑去酷吏,清風來故人。」忽有一怪陋人前揖曰:「世之酷吏冤抑何止如大暑,公他日當深究此弊。」因攜其扇而去。公憫然莫測。後數日,過一廟,見一土木短鬼,狀貌酷類茶肆中者,扇亦在其手中,公心異焉。後致大用,首建議詳定 [226] 刑統。

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).