Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories by Yuan Mei

By Kam Louie; Louise Edwards et al. | Go to book overview
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Scholar Zhang

There was a scholar from Hangzhou by the name of Zhang who worked as a tutor in the governor's residence in the capital. His study was situated in the garden a hundred-odd yards from the main residential buildings, and being a cowardly sort of fellow, Zhang always insisted that the houseboy responsible for tidying the study stay overnight with him.

Every night, as soon as it became dark enough to require a candle, Zhang would go straight to bed and sleep. This routine had continued unchanged for over a year until the night of the Midautumn Festival, when the moon was particularly big and bright.

The houseboy had gone out drinking to celebrate, so the garden gate was not yet locked, and Zhang, planning to admire the fullness of the moon himself, walked out into the garden. While he was strolling among the landscaped mounds and rocks he suddenly caught sight of a woman, completely bereft of clothing, walking towards him.

Her hair was tangled and her white skin was smeared with mud and grime. Zhang was absolutely terrified. He instantly assumed that he was looking at a corpse that had just dug its way out from the ground. Her eyes had an unnatural brightness and in the light of the full moon they took on a particularly frightening gleam.

Zhang ran as fast as he could back to his study, blocked the door with a wooden doorstop, and jumped into bed. Peeking fearfully out from under the covers, he could hear a tremendous banging as the woman tried to open the door.

Eventually the doorstop gave way and in walked the woman. She sat down at Zhang's desk and proceeded to tear all his books and papers to shreds. The ripping and tearing made a terrible sound and poor Zhang nearly passed out in terror.

Having destroyed his papers, she then took up his ruler and banged it repeatedly on the desk, sighing long and loudly all the while.

-176-

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Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories by Yuan Mei
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