The Ghosts Borrow Strength to Subdue the Wicked

According to folklore, when a wicked person is dying, the King of Hell will send evil ghosts to seize them because only these evil spirits have the power to subdue such wicked individuals.

In Yangzhou(揚州), Tang(唐氏)’s wife was both fierce and jealous, responsible for the deaths of numerous concubines and maids. Shortly after, this fierce woman fell critically ill. Even in her sickness, she continued incessantly cursing and raging just as she did in her normal days.

Their neighbor, Xu Yuan(徐元), had extraordinary strength but collapsed in bed a day earlier than the fierce woman. Yet, he was still shouting and angrily fighting as if in a brawl while lying in bed.

After a night passed, Xu Yuan woke up. When asked what happened, he said, ‘I was borrowed by a group of ghosts to help. These ghosts, under the command of the King of Hell, intended to apprehend Tang’s wife. However, she was exceptionally strong, and the ghosts couldn’t subdue her, so they borrowed my strength to capture her. I struggled against her for three whole days until last night when I managed to trip her and bind her, handing her over to those ghosts, and then I returned.’

Everyone went to check on Tang’s wife and indeed found her lifeless, with a dark bruise on her left foot.

Original text in 《鬼借力制兇人》 from 《子不語》:

俗傳兇人之終,必有惡鬼,以其力能相制也。揚州唐氏妻某,素悍妒,妾婢死其手者無數。亡何,暴病,口喃喃詈罵,如平日撒潑狀。鄰有徐元,膂力絕人,先一日昏暈,鼾呼叫罵,如與人角鬥者,逾日始蘇。或問故,曰:「吾為群鬼所借用耳。鬼奉閻羅命拘唐妻,而唐妻力強,群鬼不能制,故來假吾力縛之。吾與鬥三日,昨被吾拉倒其足,縛交群鬼,吾才歸耳。」往視唐妻,果氣絕,而左足有青傷。

illust: An interesting part of QiuYing(仇英)’s version of《清明上河圖》

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