Zhang, a gentleman from Hangzhou, said: When my father, Mr. Xingzi(星子先生), served as the educational commissioner in Jiangxi, there was a maidservant who was originally dull but suddenly became clever, surprising the family.
One day, this maid closed the door to take a bath and didn’t come out for a long time. Calls to her went unanswered. Peeking inside, no one was there. Breaking in, they found the bathwater untouched. All the windows were tightly shut, and everything inside was normal, without a speck of dust disturbed. However, there was a small hole in the floor, just big enough for a mouse to pass through. Digging open the floor to investigate, they discovered a hole about a yard deep, and the young maid was sleeping inside, entranced and unresponsive. After pouring some ginger juice, she finally woke up after a long time.
The young maid explained that about a month ago, she had encountered a young woman who treated her kindly and taught her many things. The sudden change from foolishness to cleverness was all thanks to this woman’s teachings.
The maid said, ‘She told me, ‘I have grievances, and I want your master to help me seek justice.’ I agreed but dared not speak to my master. After a few days, the woman came to reproach me for breaking my promise. I told her I was afraid of my master, so I couldn’t do it. The woman said, ‘What you said makes sense. I don’t blame you. I have a beautiful garden; why don’t you come with me for a stroll?’ She then took me to a place with a small red door and a few narrow rooms. I said, ‘There’s nothing to see here; I want to go back.’ The woman said, ‘Let’s sit here for a moment and rest our feet.’ Suddenly, we heard a commotion outside, and the woman hastily left. Only then did I realize that you all came looking for me.’
The family pulled the maid out of the deep hole, and the ghost’s whereabouts remained unknown.
When the young maid reached the age of sixteen or seventeen, the Zhang family married her off. She has been living well, now in her fifties.
Translated from《小婢入穴》in 《子不語》: