The Living Avenge Unjust Death 生報死冤

In Jianyang County there was a woman of the Liu family who because of an illicit relationship with a passing traveller, one Yu Er. Yu therefore, when she later buried her husband, exhausted all his property, giving it to the woman for her expenses. When she took up with someone else, Yu felt deeply hurt and whipped the woman, after which she hung herself. Her son covered up the matter and buried her. The woman was then reincarnated in the family of Wang Qianliu in Jiankang, remaining as his daughter. Her birth took place on the same year, month and day as the woman’s suicide.

Yu returned to seeking books and literature, and travelled to Jiankang, happening to visit Wang Qianliu’s house. Wang and Yu were aware that the girl’s birth tallied with the death of the adultress, so raised her as an adopted child. On reaching thirteen or fourteen, the girl formed an illicit attachment with the youthful son of a neighbour, but Yu prohibited this and declared it unacceptable. One day, Yu Zhai, who was serving as Grand Military Commissioner, was travelling by sedan chair and followed Yu to the second entrance, when he came across the girl weeping and crying in an upper storey, saying that her father and Yu had forced her into adultery. Yu was terrified at being questioned by the military commission about these strange events, and, falling into a panic, hung himself and died. The next year, the girl married the neighbour’s young son.

The adulterer died in Min (Fujian), but the retribution of this matter took place several thousand li away. It can clearly be seen that injustice inevitably faces retribution, like an echo following a sound. Matters of uneasy conscience can never be endured.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.126 (Tale 220):

生報死冤

In 建陽縣有劉家一婦,因與衢客余二者私通,余因此婦喪夫,遂罄其財本,以給此婦用度。此婦復通他人,余痛箠之,婦自縊而死。其子匿其事葬之。此婦乃託生於建康王千六家,仍為女子。所生之日,乃此婦之自縊年月日時也。余復營求文籍,往建康販賣,遇於王千六家。王與余心知女生年與姦婦死日符合,遂就王螟蛉為女看養。年及十三四歲,此女遂私與鄰之少年子通,余禁之不可。一日,裕齋為制置使,行轎從余二門首,遇此女在樓上狂叫,謂其父余二強逼之姦私。余恐制司怪問,被此一嚇,自經而死。後年,其女嫁鄰之少年子為妻。姦婦死於閩,乃責報於數千里外,信知冤必有報,如響隨聲,虧心之事,斷斷乎不可為已。

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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Aggrieved Spirits Become Visible 冤鬼現形

In the guiyou year of the Song Chunyou era (1253), in Duanyang there was a person surnamed Chen, who plotted to kill a seller of medicinal herbs, and to carry away a boatload of medicine. He plotted this together with the merchant’s servant. On returning he went himself to open up a druggist’s shop, and when the time came to make sales, he unwrapped the bundled medicines, but inside he saw the head of the murdered tradesman. Unwrapping every bundle they were all the same. He became completely terrified, leaped up once, and died.

Moreover, in a bingyin year, in Yuanzhou there was a monk whose surname had formerly been Wang, who followed the official Liu Cui in Changwu, seizing the abbot of a Chan monastery. Before this, the monks of that monastery had all exhausted their funds and borrowed money so they claimed it; the abbot had not been there long, and was frightened that he might seize the monastery. The monk thought that the repayments already made had been heavy enough, and refused to pay more, offering only 300,000 as payment. Monk Wang wished to seize it all with main strength, and although it was strongly fortified and resisted, the abbot cut his own throat in angry despair. Monk Wang took all the monastery’s treasure and returned, but whenever crossing a watery place, he always saw the dead abbot following behind him. On reaching his home compound, whenever he glanced in a mirror, he would always see the dead monk behind his left or right shoulder, and due to this never dared to use a mirror. After the extensive burning of incense and spirit money, he found peace for a time. After [122] several years had passed, the monk Wang suddenly developed a sore on his left cheek, its pus and blood never drying, and eventually he died.

It is thus clear that the burden of taking human life cannot be borne, and that rancour endures in the darkest places.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.121-22 (Tale 211):

冤鬼現形

宋淳祐癸丑年間,端陽有陳其姓者,謀殺一販生藥商人,席卷一船生藥。蓋與商僕共圖之。歸則自以開張藥局,遇發賣之時,解開藥裹,則見被殺商人之頭在內,裹裹皆有。其人驚駭,一躍而亡。

又丙寅年間,袁州有僧俗姓王者,隨劉倅官於常武,於倅奪一禪寺住持。先是,此寺之僧皆竭資舉債而圖之,住持未久,而遽遭其奪寺。僧思前費已重,後顧無償,只得又經營三百千貼之。王僧志在強奪,堅然不允,而寺僧憤鬱自刎。王僧席卷寺財而歸,沿途凡渡水處,即見死僧隨後。到鄉所歸院,每覽鏡,又嘗見死僧在肩之左右,於是不敢用鏡,廣燒香紙,以期平善。越 [122] 數年,王僧忽左腮患瘡如碗,膿血不幹,竟斃。信知人命不可負,其冤對在冥冥間也。

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 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)

A Dead Servant Sells Geese 死僕賣鵝

The Li household of Anqing Fu had a servant named Hu Baiwu, who had died several years ago. One day, setting off for the capital, Li saw someone in the street resembling him, at which he exclaimed and questioned the seller. He said: “Your humble servant is actually a ghost; not originally fated to die yet, my ethereal soul could not submit to authority, and has no option but to drift through the mortal world.” Questioned about the things he sold, he said: “These are items from this (mortal) world; every day I bring the travelling pedlar’s stall, and the money I use is also of this world.” Questioned as to his accommodation, he said: “At night I rest at the roadside, on a butcher’s board, where the guards on patrol don’t see me; those trading like this are very many, and are of course ghosts.”

It can therefore be seen that mixed among the floating population (huhai) are ghostly people; even grasping their fingers and pointing none would see this truly.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.240 (Tale 433):

死僕賣鵝

安慶府李家有僕胡百五,已死數年。一日如京,於街上見賣炙鵝者似之,呼而問。曰:「某實鬼也,本未當死,魂無歸附,未免混凡。」詰其所賣之物,曰:「即世間物,每日就鋪家行販來,所用之錢即世間錢也。」詰其止宿之地,曰:「夜則泊於街旁肉案上,巡更軍吏皆不得見,經紀買賣如某輩甚多,固鬼也。」 以是見湖海之內,人鬼混淆,持指示數人,皆不識耳。

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 Opens A Pawnshop 鬼開典庫

During the Song Xianchun era (1265-75), from among the residents of Dashi Village a ghostly monster came forth to seize a small building and revealed itself on top of it. Having a hairy head as its body, it called itself Old Uncle, often trading goods with people as a pawnbroker, holding myriad types of clothing and utensils against loans which were made in copper cash. People came to the foot of the house and called “Old Uncle”, at which he would reply to stand before the house, taking the items pawned and tossing them away, then flinging down cash; taking items for mortgage in this way became commonly accepted. This continued for several years, but then a Buddhist priest arrived there in his roaming, heard of this strange matter, and took his seal of Buddha-truth to the foot of the building and threw it to the top. He heard a single thunderclap, and the ghost disappeared.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.235 (Tale 423):

鬼開典庫

宋咸淳年間,䃮石村人有一小樓為鬼怪所據,現形其上。有首毛身,自稱老叔,常與人交關典質,衣服器皿皆典,所典者銅錢。人於樓下呼之曰「老叔」,則應聲而立於樓前,將質物擲去,錢即擲下,取典亦然,習以為常。如此數年,忽有一道人雲遊至彼,聞其怪異,乃於樓下擲以法印,拋上,(明刻本此處多「其樓」二字。)但聞雷震一聲,其怪遂滅。

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).