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An Omen on a Moonlit Night

《唐餘錄》:廬樞為建州刺史,月夜聞堂西階下若有人語笑聲,躡足窺之,見七八人,長不盈尺,雜坐飲酒,久之,席中一人曰:“今夕甚樂,但白老將至,奈何?”因歎叱。須臾,皆入陰溝中不見。後數日罷郡,新政家有貓名曰白老。既至,自堂西階地下獲鼠七八枚,皆殺之。

According to the Records of the Tang Remainder,[1] Lu Shu was the prefect of Jianzhou. On a moonlit night, [he] heard sounds of talking and laughing near the western steps of the front room. [He] tiptoed over there and took a peep: seven or eight people, each not even a foot in height, were sitting about, drinking wine. After a while, one of them said, “What a lovely evening! Yet Old White is about to come. What shall we do?” [The party] went into a chorus of sighs and curses at these words. A few moments later, [they] all went into the gutter and disappeared. A few days later, Lu Shu was dismissed from the county. The new prefect had a house cat called “Old White”. After their arrival, [the cat] seized seven or eight mice from below the western steps and killed them all.


*From Wang Chutong 王初桐 (1729-1821) ed., Mao sheng 貓乘 (Historia Felum) 1.2a: https://ctext.org/library.pl?if=en&file=35233&page=7.


[1] This is a now-lost history of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907-979) compiled by Wang Gao 王皞 (fl. 11th century). It was one of Ouyang Xiu's 歐陽修 (1007-1072) key sources when he compiled the Xin Wudaishi 新五代史 (New History of the Five Dynasties).


Detail of "Linu tu" 貍奴圖, hanging scroll by Wang Li 王禮 (fl. 18th century)

Image credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art


 

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