When Jintan(金壇) Yu Yunshi(于雲石) was working in the Hanlin Academy(翰林), he had to bring his father to the capital for support.
Mr. Yu traveled alone to the capital. One day, halfway there, it was getting late, and there was no one around. After searching for a while, he finally found an inn and went in to stay for the night. However, the innkeeper said the rooms were all full and couldn’t accommodate him, asking him to find another place. As there were no other inns nearby, Mr. Yu repeatedly pleaded with the innkeeper to make an exception. After much hesitation, the innkeeper finally said, ‘There is an empty house behind the inn, where my son used to study in his childhood. Unfortunately, he passed away, and I can’t bear to go back there, so it has remained locked and empty for years. If you don’t mind, you can stay there for the night. What do you think?’ With nowhere else to go, Mr. Yu had to agree and followed the innkeeper.
Inside the house, Mr. Yu saw dust covering the walls and cobwebs everywhere. On a table, there were several rolls of old books, including a draft of an eight-legged essay. He casually flipped through it and was astonished to find that the writing in the draft was exactly the same as his son’s. As he continued reading, he found essays from the provincial and metropolitan exams, which were also identical to his son’s writings during those exams. Mr. Yu was greatly amazed.
Suddenly, a beam of light shone into the room from the window. In that light, Mr. Yu saw, as if in a trance, the words ‘Yu Yunshi(于雲石)’ on the opposite stone wall. He approached with a candle to take a closer look, but it actually read ‘Qianxiao Stone(千霄石).’ Just as he turned to go back, there was a deafening roar behind him. When he looked back, the stone wall had collapsed, and the words ‘Qianxiao Stone’ were nowhere to be seen.
That night, Mr. Yu was filled with doubt and suspicion, unable to sleep at all. Early the next morning, he hurriedly left the inn. Upon reaching the capital and meeting his son, he recounted his strange experience at the inn in detail. Yu Yunshi, upon hearing it, couldn’t help but turn pale and collapsed on the spot. Mr. Yu urgently called for help, but Yu Yunshi had already passed away.
Translated from《于雲石》in 《子不語》: