A man named Zhang from Hezhou traveled to Yangzhou(揚州) and stayed at the Xingjiao Temple(興教寺). The monks’ quarters in the temple were haunted by a fox immortal, so no one dared to stay there. Zhang, with his carefree personality, decided to reside in the monk’s room.
Not long after Zhang moved in, an old man claiming to be Wu Gangzi(吳剛子) came to visit. After exchanging greetings with a bow, they began to converse. This old man had a unique charm and knowledge of past and future events. Zhang asked, “Old sir, could you be an immortal?” The reply was, “I dare not claim that.” Zhang, being a poor man, hoped to gain wealth by befriending him, so he prepared food and drinks for a feast. Later, Wu Gangzi reciprocated with a feast in return. This pattern continued for less than half a month, and Zhang had nearly depleted his money, while Wu Gangzi’s feasts were always lavish. Greed overcame Zhang, and he constantly persuaded Wu Gangzi to host feasts, which Wu Gangzi gladly did without hesitation. After more than a month, Wu Gangzi suddenly stopped coming.
At that time, it was the plum rain season. Zhang opened his chest to air out his clothes and discovered that the chest was completely empty. Inside, there was an account statement along with several pawn tickets. The statement detailed the expenses for each feast, including the cost of chicken, fish, vegetables, and fruits, all pledged against Zhang’s clothing. Every entry was clear, without missing a single expense, and not a penny was spared.
Translated from《狐仙開帳》in 《子不語》: