Proofread by Fu Tianying
Feeling burnt in her scalp, Ma Tian'en chased along the direction where the ghost in red disappeared, but saw nothing. If it was a person, he must be some place near here. Thinking of that, Ma Tian'en asked Ashun to get more people in, who could search these storerooms.
As the door of granary opened, Uncle the Fifth at the door came up to see that Ashun rolled and crawled over with pale face, and said, "The female ghost is coming out, everyone please follow me to catch it." But over half of the people around him ran away as they heard what he said.
"Don't worry. It must be someone pretending. Now, we have so many people that we cannot be afraid of a fake ghost. Those who are willing to go will get five taels." Uncle the Fifth was worried about Ma Tian'en's safety, so he was hurried to get people in to help.
To his surprise, someone refuted him immediately: "What can I do with those taels if I lost my life!" And other people echoed.
"Don't be afraid, I have already caught a fake ghost played by a ventriloquist. This one is also definitely fake. Our master is there, so if it is a real ghost, he will come out much earlier." Ashun also realized that he had a problem with his words, and added quickly.
Uncle the Fifth also continued to persuade them. Then through the rewards and threats, about ten followed them into the granary. The moment they entered, everyone felt a blast of chilly air, which made the coward ones tremble and watch out. They planned to run away if there was something bad.
Then they heard the sound of footsteps and running. Ashun shouted: "Master, we are coming." He led all and ran to see that Ma Tian'en and others were searching the storerooms and flipping the boxes and sacks.
"Let's find it together. I don't believe that she has wings." Seeing more people around, Ma Tian'en became more confident. Everyone came to help her, but they found nothing like the so-called ghost in red after a long time. "The ghost!" shouted someone. Everyone was extremely nervous, and they looked at the direction to find a red shadow entering a storeroom. Then Ma Tian'en took the lead in chasing it.
They reached the storeroom soon because it was not far away. But they found nothing but many boxes in it. They had seen the female ghost go into the room, but could not see even a shadow. What the h.e.l.l it was!
"Open all the boxes. I will not stop till I find it!" Ma Tian'en was really angry. The boxes were opened, and they found nothing but goods. At this time, Ma Tian'en was also a little panicked, but she still believed in her heart that it must be a person, but how could a person disappear? But others could not be that calm. Disappearing under the eyes of all people, the woman in red must be a ghost.
"Let's run away, life is more important!"
"Yes, if it weren't a ghost, how could it suddenly disappeared? I quit."
Someone was whispering to persuade each other to run away. "What are you afraid of?! Even it is a real ghost, we have so many people that we can beat it." Uncle the Fifth heard that and rebuked.
Then, he whispered to Ma Tian'en,"Shall we go out first to invite a Taoist priest tomorrow?"
"There is no ghost, so why shall we invite a Taoist priest!" Ma Tian'en rejected firmly, because she thought that inviting a Taoist priest meant admitting the existence of a ghost. Then there came a sound of a woman crying outside the storeroom, which was very sad. All people were creepy. The ghost was inside the storeroom, but why the crying sound was outside? The timid ones fell directly on the ground, and bold ones went out of the storeroom, only to see a red shadow.
Everyone could not calm down, for it must be a ghost!
"Ghost, don't catch me!"
It was seen that a person ran away screaming. Taking him as an example, all followed him. They feared being caught by the ghost so much that they wanted more legs to run faster. Ma Tian'en, dragged by Uncle the Fifth, ran unconsciously after them. Seeing a lot of people running out and some shouting that there was a ghost, the people at the door were so scared that they all ran away. As Ma Tian'en calmed down, she looked around, only to find none in the place bustling with people just now.
"Tian'en, I do believe there is a ghost now. Would you like to go back and talk with your father for a Taoist priest. It may be a female ghost who died on a bad charge, so a ritual is needed." Said Uncle Five when he was thinking about whether there were women who died because of Ma Family.
"Uncle the Fifth, I still do not believe it is a ghost. Well, could you please give me more days to find out who it is." Ma Tian'en had pretended to be a ghost for many times but she did not think there was a real ghost, so she believed that it was a person though she had not made clear why the person was not found yet. Turning around, she saw that the man who had just been caught as the ghost was still there, almost trembling on the ground.
"Hey, when you were inside, did you see the female ghost?"
"No, if I saw it, I would have run out earlier. I am afraid of it, too." He was indeed honest.
It seemed that nothing would be found out here, so Ma Tian'en decided to go back first, with the fake ghost. But she had not expected that the fake ghost was a chatterbox, who told her nearly all about his family, of course including his name—Jia Shengping, called Mr. Jia by others.
Mr. Jia was very curious about how Ma Tian'en could spit fire, and after a long time of pestering, Ma Tian'en could not help but say:" You say you are an experienced person of secular world, so you haven't seen jugglers? I put rosin powder in my mouth, and I lit it when I turned around, so I just sprayed it out naturally."
"Oh, I see. Master, you are really talented. I will follow you from now on."
It was not a wonderful feeling to be wors.h.i.+ped by such a swindler. Ma Tian'en suddenly thought of something and she asked Uncle the Fifth not to go home but to the restaurant first. Uncle the Fifth held that she was scared to be hungry. Though he thought she was too young, he agreed with her.
In the study, after getting the news that his student would rather go to catch ghosts than learn with him, Wu Zhong felt mixed. Well, he was also worried about her. After all, she was the his only student. He could do nothing but read a few volumes of sages to calm down, but he felt the door would be pushed open in the next moment all the time.
Sure enough, if you think of something, it will happen. The door was opened at once, and a familiar figure came in with a food box.
"Sir, you see what I bring to you!" Ma Tian'en walked in with a smile, making the room much brighter.
Ma Tian'en went to the desk of Wu Zhong holding a big food box, and then put it on the desk. The box was opened and appeared a delicious and appet.i.te-stimulating roast duck with inviting color and taste.
"It is a real Cao Duck! It was roasted by the cook of Tianxiang Building just now. Sir, please have a taste to see if it presents you a taste of the Jiangnan cuisine." Said Ma Tian'en, with an ingratiating smile.
At the initial stage of this dynasty, Jinling was the capital city. In the 18th year of Yongle, the Beijing Imperial Palace and Beijing City were completed. The newly-built Beijing City was constructed according to the form of the Rites of Zhou: Book of Diverse Crafts, so the Emperor Yongle issued an imperial edict to move the capital city to Beijing and changed the name to Jings.h.i.+. The population in Beijing was not that much, and the food there was also monotonous before. As it became the capital city, various styles of cooking were spread here from all parts of the country. As for Cao Duck, it was made by the ducks from the south of the country, which swam along the s.h.i.+ps going to the capital city. The ducks were fed with what the people gave and the food in the water to grow bigger as they entered the capital, and then they were sold to those who would sell them to restaurants or rich families for making roasted ducks. It originated from the water transport of grain to the capital (which was called Cao Yun in Chinese), so it was called Cao Duck. It was far more delicious than those fed by local people. Wu Zhong came from Jiangnan, so he loved his local duck, while the price was so high that he had little chance to eat it.
"You want something from me, right? OK, first, you must read; second, you cannot ask me to do something evil; third..." Wu Zhong moved his sight from the duck to Ma Tian'en and said seriously.
"Sir, I just want to give you a gift. How can you think of me like that! If you do not want to eat, I will take it away!" Said Ma Tian'en, and she pretended to take the duck, while she looked at Wu Zhong with aggrieved expression as she touched the food box.
Ma Tian'en was so cute that Wu Zhong could not help knocking her head. She ma.s.saged her head and protested with dissatisfaction.
"Just say, what has happened? Or never say it again." Wu Zhong sat down with a smile.
"Trifles, just trifles. Sir, I just want you to do a thing with me!"
"Um, sure enough. But as your teacher, what can I do?"
"Well, I'd like to beg you to catch a ghost for me."