Reckless Ghost

According to the ancient texts: ‘Those with green pupils can see demons; those with white pupils can see ghosts.’

Next to the stone archway of Sanyuan Fang(三元坊) in Hangzhou lived an old lady surnamed Shen. She could often see ghosts. She once said, ‘Ten years ago, I saw a disheveled ghost hiding in the stone embroidery on top of the archway. It held paper money, using it as a dart. The paper dart was over ten feet long, densely packed, resembling a string of beads. When the disheveled ghost spotted someone passing under the archway, it would covertly throw the paper dart, hitting the person’s head. The victim would shiver, their hair standing on end, falling sick when returning home. At that moment, the patient had to pray to the sky or perform outdoor rituals for the illness to abate. Relying on this trick, the disheveled ghost often indulged in food and drink.

‘One day, a tall man carrying a string of money passed beneath the archway, exuding an imposing air. The disheveled ghost used the paper dart against him, and suddenly, flames erupted from the man’s head, shooting upward, burning the string holding the paper dart. Layer by layer, the paper dart peeled off, and the disheveled ghost tumbled from the archway along with the stone embroidery ball. Sneezing continuously, the disheveled ghost eventually turned into a black smoke, dissipating. The man carrying the money had no inkling of what had occurred. Since then, there have been no more ghostly occurrences at the stone archway of Sanyuan Fang.’

Upon hearing this tale, my friend Fang Ziyun chuckled and remarked, ‘Even ghosts causing harm must consider the prevailing winds. Such a disheveled ghost has become what people call a reckless ghost, hasn’t it?’

Translated from 《冒失鬼》 in 《子不語》:


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