Many years ago a Chinese nobleman was woken each night by the sound of someone walking by his house. One night, he peered out of the door and saw a beautiful and well dressed lady carrying a peony lantern.
The nobleman was instantly smitten with the woman, and the following night he stepped out to greet her as she passed his house. He declared his love for her and promised to be faithful to her in life and in death. From that night on the nobleman and the woman became lovers. She would always visit him in his home at night and always leave before dawn.
This mysterious woman began to arouse the suspicion on the nobleman’s servants. One night, as the nobleman and his sweetheart lay in bed together, an elderly maid peeked in and saw her master asleep. To the maid’s horror, she saw a skeleton stretched out on the bed next to the nobleman!
Terrified, the old woman consulted a Taoist priest. The priest warned the nobleman that he was in grave danger if he could resist his supernatural lover.
The nobleman refused the woman entry for several nights but finally succumbed to his heart’s desire and led her into his chamber. The following morning, the nobleman’s lifeless body was found entwined in an embrace with a skeleton.
By P A McHugh
[The map is a generic location in Xi’an and not associated directly with the above story]