The Ghost at the Government Office in Suqian

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》:

淮徐道姚公廷棟,駐扎宿遷。封翁壽期,演劇於堂。堂旁墻極高,見墻外有人頭數千,眼睽睽然,俱來觀劇。初疑是皂隸輩,叱之不去,近之無有。明旦視之,牆外皆湖,無立人處。
其幕友潘禹九遣奴往廚取酒,久而不至,跡之,已仆于地,口眼皆青泥,盤中酒菜之類,變作蚯蚓樹葉。潘素不信鬼神,乃挺身至奴所行處,驗其有無。署中二客詐為鬼狀,私往嚇之。潘籠一小燈,行未半道,兩客見黑氣一條繞燈而入,燈色綠如螢火,潘勿覺。二客悚然,噤不發聲。潘將如廁,有大黑手遮其面,踉蹌急歸。二客迎之,共相駭異。手持燈漸重,火亦澌滅。家奴各持火來照,燈籠內有死野鴨一隻,鴨大籠小,竟不知從何處竄入也。

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