Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories by Yuan Mei

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

Elder Brother Ding

During the reign of the Kangxi emperor, a peasant farmer from the Yangzhou region by the name of Second Brother Yu went into town to pick up the cash he'd earned from the sale of his recent wheat crop. The purchaser insisted he stay on for a few pots of wine, and by the time Yu set off for home it was late and the road was pitch black.

As he approached Red Bridge he was jumped by more than a dozen dwarflike ghosts, who clung tightly to his clothing. Yu knew ghosts were rampant in the area but he was a tough and fearless sort of man and besides he was emboldened by the wine. So he fought hard against these ghosts, vigorously brandishing his fists. But no sooner had he fought off one bunch than another formed to attack him.

In the midst of the fray Second Brother Yu overheard one of the ghosts say, "This guy's too tough for us. There's no way we can beat him. Let's get Elder Brother Ding. I bet he'd be able to put this guy away."

The ghosts ran off noisily and Yu was left alone to ponder the horror of Elder Brother Ding. Eventually he decided, in a rather fatalistic frame of mind, that since he had come this far he would keep going and deal with whatever came for him when it arrived.

Indeed, he had only just crossed Red Bridge when he was confronted by a ghost of enormous proportions. It was over ten feet tall, and in the shadowy light Yu could just make out the green and purple colors of his face. All in all it was a sinister, terrifying sight.

Yu knew that his only possibility of success was to take the initiative straightaway. His best chance was to strike before the ghost expected it, so he untied his money belt, filled as it was with the two thousand coppers he'd received earlier in the day, and hurled it with all his might at his opponent.

The ghost fell instantaneously to the ground, making a clinking sound as it hit the stone paving. Yu ran over and trampled the ghost

-202-

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