Once there was a woman who lived in a New Territories village. Every night the most delicious smells would float from her kitchen window. Every weekend all her sons and daughters would visit her and she would roast a whole pig on a spit. Her neighbour, a poor man, became curious about how she had enough money to eat so well.
The woman explained. "One night I was walking through the cemetery and I saw a ghost. I screamed and ran. But it seemed the ghost was more afraid of me, because when I looked again it had turned into a pig. So I caught the pig, carried it down the mountain, and have enjoyed lots of pork ever since.”
The man couldn't believe his luck. For now he knew that ghosts turned into pigs, and could be caught. He decided to go and hunt one for himself. Then I’ll have free food forever, he thought.
That very night, he shouldered a sack, a club, and some rope. The crescent moon smiled at him from the night sky. He hid behind a grave and waited for a ghost to appear.
He waited and waited, growing stiff with cold. Mosquitoes bit his ankles. A snake slithered by. At dawn, he gave up and went home.
After that, he went out ghost-hunting every night, for weeks. Once he saw a flare in the trees and ran after it, but it was only a shooting star.
After a month, he gave up.
So it seems that ghosts only come out when people are frightened of them. The man in this story wasn’t frightened so the ghosts were too scared to haunt him.
This is a retelling of the story 鬼避姜三莽, originally written by 閱微草堂.
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