Infatuated Ghost’s Love for His Wife

In the capital, there was an elderly woman who could see ghosts. She once told people, “I once saw a ghost at a certain family, utterly infatuated to the extreme. However, the situation was pitiful, evoking a poignant and touching feeling. The ghost’s name was unknown, residing in a certain village. The family was moderately well-off, and the ghost died at the age of around twenty-seven or twenty-eight. About a hundred days after his death, the deceased’s wife invited me to accompany her. I observed him often sitting under the lilac tree in the courtyard, listening to the cries of his wife, the noise of his son, or the scolding and reproach from his brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Though unable to approach due to the strong yang energy repelling him, he always stood outside the window, listening with a woeful expression. Later, when a matchmaker visited his wife’s room, he suddenly became alert, looking around anxiously. Upon hearing that the matchmaking failed, he showed a slight expression of joy. Subsequently, as the matchmaker moved between the brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and his wife’s rooms, he followed the matchmaker, looking bewildered, as if he had lost something. When the engagement was successful and the groom’s family sent the betrothal gifts, he sat under the tree, eyes fixed on his wife’s room, shedding tears like rain. From that day on, whenever his wife went in or out, he always followed closely, his yearning becoming more intense. The night before his wife remarried, as she prepared her dowry in the room, he lingered outside, either leaning against the corridor pillar weeping or bowing his head in contemplation. Upon hearing sounds of coughing and rinsing inside the room, he immediately peeped through a crack. Throughout the night, he paced anxiously, restless.

At this point in her story, the old woman continued, “At that time, I sighed: ‘Infatuated ghost, why do you do this?’ It seemed like he didn’t hear. The next day was when the bridegroom’s family came to escort the bride. With lamps as guides, the ghost stood aside along the wall, still gazing up at his wife. I accompanied the bride to leave, and when I looked back, I saw him, eyes following from a distance to the groom’s house. Initially blocked by the door god, after he bowed and pleaded, he was allowed to enter the groom’s house. He hid in a corner, watching his wife and the groom bow to each other and become a married couple. He stood there, seemingly transfixed, like someone intoxicated. When the bride entered the bridal chamber, he quietly approached the window to peek. Until late at night, when the newlyweds extinguished the candles and enjoyed the night together, he still refused to leave. Eventually, he was driven away by the household god and appeared disheveled. After leaving the groom’s house, he returned to his own home, entering the room where his wife used to live. At this time, his son was still in the house, crying for his mother. He swiftly came out of the room, circled around his son, gesturing helplessly with his hands, displaying a look of despair. When his sister-in-law came out and slapped his son, he stomped his feet while clenching his hands to his chest, revealing a distant expression of intense hatred.”

The elderly woman concluded, “Watching this, my heart couldn’t bear it, so I directly returned home and never went to see him again.”

Translated from《癡鬼戀妻》in 《續子不語》:

京師有媼能視鬼,嘗告人曰:昨于某家見一鬼,可謂癡絕,然情狀可憐,亦使人心脾淒動。
鬼名某,住某村,家亦小康,死時年二十七八。初死百日後,婦邀我相伴,見其恒坐院中丁香樹下,或聞婦哭聲,或聞兒啼聲,或聞兄嫂與婦詬誶聲,雖陽氣逼爍不能近,然必側耳窗外,悽慘之色可掬。後見媒妁至婦房,愕然驚起,左右顧。後聞議不成,稍有喜色。既而媒妁再至,來往兄嫂與婦處,則奔走隨之,皇皇如有失。
送聘之日,坐樹下,目直視婦房,淚涔涔如雨,自是婦每出入,輒隨其後,眷戀之意更篤。嫁前一日,婦整束奩具,復徘徊簷外,或倚柱泣,或俯首如有思,稍聞房內嗽聲,輒從隙私窺,營營徹夜。媼太息曰:「癡鬼何必如是!」若弗聞也。娶者入,秉火前行,鬼避立前隅,仍翹首望婦。吾偕婦出回顧,見其遠遠隨至娶者家,為門神所阻,稽顙哀乞,乃得入,則匿墻隅,望婦行禮,凝立如醉狀。婦入房,稍稍近窗而窺,至滅燭就寢,尚不去,為中霤神所驅,乃狼狽出。
仍至婦家,婦留一兒在家,聞兒索母啼,趨出環繞兒四週,以兩手相搓作無可奈何狀。俄嫂出撻兒一掌,更頓足拊心,遙作切齒狀。媼視之不忍,乃逕歸。

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