The official residence of Yao Tingdong(姚廷棟), the governor of Huai-Xu Dao(淮徐道), was located in Suqian(宿遷). He celebrated his father’s birthday and invited a group of pear garden disciples to perform a play in the hall. The wall next to the hall was very high, and thousands of people could be seen outside the wall, all with wide-open eyes watching the performance. Initially, he thought they were subordinates such as soap slaves and officials, scolding them, but they still did not leave. When he approached to take a look, they had disappeared without a trace. The next day, after daybreak, he went to the wall to take a look, and outside the wall was a lake, with no place for people to stand.
One of Yao Tingdong’s friends, Pan Yujiu(潘禹九), sent a servant to the kitchen to fetch wine. After a long time, there was no sign of him returning. When they went to check, they found him lying on the ground, with blue mud in his mouth and eyes. The food in the plate had turned into earthworms and leaves. Pan Yujiu, who had never believed in ghosts and gods, bravely went to the place where the servant had passed to see if there was anything unusual. In the office, two guests deliberately disguised themselves as ghosts and planned to scare Pan. Pan was holding a small lamp and had not walked halfway when the guests saw a black air swirling around Pan’s lamp and entering it, turning the color of the lamp green like fireflies. Pan was unaware at that time, but the two guests pretending to be ghosts were already trembling and unable to speak.
At that moment, Pan Yujiu felt a big black hand covering his face when he was about to go to the toilet. Startled, he quickly turned back. When he returned, he encountered the two guests disguised as ghosts, and both sides were surprised. Pan felt that the lamp in his hand was getting heavier, and the flame was gradually extinguishing. The household servants brought a lamp to illuminate, and they found a dead wild duck in Pan’s lantern. The duck was large, and it was unclear how it had sneaked in.
Translated from《宿遷官署鬼》in 《子不語》: