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Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories by Yuan Mei

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

Daylight Ghosts

There was once an extremely skillful thief by the name of Qi. So successful was he at his profession that he had accumulated tremendous wealth.

The problem was, he became increasingly worried that all these local crimes would eventually be traced back to him. So he decided as a precaution to move into a rundown old house next to the local cemetery.

One night he was visited in a dream by several ghosts. They told him, "We'll guarantee your continued prosperity if you make a few offerings to us."

In the dream Qi agreed to provide the ghosts with the requested offerings, but when he awoke he decided it had all been a load of nonsense and promptly forgot his promise.

It wasn't long before the ghosts reappeared to him in another dream. This time they said, "You promised to make the offerings to us within three days. If this promise is not fulfilled we'll come during the night and take away all your ill-gotten gains."

Now Qi was a very obstinate man and the next morning he resolved once again to ignore their requests. Qi soon fell ill and, remembering the ghosts' threat, told his wife to keep a close eye on his loot.

At noon, pieces of his hoard began to move out of the house seemingly of their own accord. Qi tried to get out of bed to halt the flow, but found that his hands and feet were tied. After every single stolen item had departed from the house, Qi's limbs were freed from their bindings and his illness instantly disappeared.

And then Qi saw the light. "Just as I had drugged people during their sleep to carry out my various burglaries, so the ghosts drugged me! Except that they did their burglary during daytime. These must be what people call 'daylight ghosts.'"

From that day forth, Qi was a reformed man who devoted his life to acts of virtue.

-222-

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