In Hangzhou, there was a scholar named Sun who, on a summer night, was reading in his study. He felt something crawling on his forehead and, upon brushing it with his hand, saw countless strands of white beard hanging down from the plaque on the ceiling. On the plaque was a large face, about the size of a seven-stone jar, with eyebrows and eyes like an ordinary person, smiling and looking down. Sun, being a brave man, tried to touch the white beard, but as he touched and pulled, it shrank until only a large face remained on the plaque. When he climbed on a stool to get a closer look, he saw nothing there.
He continued reading, but the white beard hung down again like before. After several nights, the large face descended and stopped on the table, using its long beard to cover Sun’s eyes, preventing him from reading. Sun threw his inkstone at the face, making a sound like knocking on a wooden fish, and the face immediately disappeared.
A few nights later, as Sun was about to sleep, the large face appeared again, this time beside his pillow, using its beard to scratch his body. Unable to sleep, Sun grabbed his pillow and threw it at the face. The face rolled on the ground, making a “swooshing” sound, and then ascended to the horizontal inscribed board and disappeared. The family was furious, quickly threw the board into the fire, and the strange creature vanished. Sun later succeeded in the imperial examination.
Translated from《匾怪》in 《子不語》: