Proofread by Fu Tianying
"Teacher, have you got something?" Ma Tian'en was quite observant. He knew it immediately as soon as he took a glance at Wu Zhong.
"I'll tell you outside," Wu Zhong said as he walked out. Ma Tian'en was curious about what Wu had found, but Wu Zhong refused to tell, so he stopped asking. Everyone went out together.
Some people still scattered outside around the granary. Seeing them coming out, they all came and asked questions. Before their cascading questions, Wu Zhong said: "We don't have to worry; we just went in and didn't see any ghosts. Maybe someone was so tired that he was hallucinated."
"You are just a scholar. How could you understand those supernatural beings? I was not the only man who saw the ghost here. Could it be possible that we were all hallunicated at that time?" Someone questioned him right away.
"People just followed what others said. You know, when highly tense, people will be affected by others."
"Why not stay in the granary for one night? Maybe ghosts would like to come out at night." Someone in the crowd jeered.
"Well, it's okay. It sounds I am afraid to stay in the granary." Ma Tian'en thought his teacher was strange today. What he said even failed to convince himself. How could it fool everyone here? What he said today was too naive, unlike a shrewd and sophisticated teacher.
"Since everybody thought there were ghosts, I will go back to prepare a rite to drive them away three days later.You could just keep an eye on the granary. Do not go in until I come." Wu Zhong behaved like a transcendent being who did know some magic arts.
"Teacher Wu, do you really know how to catch a ghost?" Ma Tian'en lowered his voice and asked in doubt.
"Not very much. Only a little." After he finished, Wu Zhong went his own way, leaving the crowd discussing.
"The scholar was probably a liar. Where did he come from?"
"At the very start, he said there are no ghosts at all, and soon he decided to prepare a rite. As I see, he gonna run away with money."
"He seems to be the teacher of Childe Ma. I have ever seen him once in Ma family. I did not expect him to catch ghosts."
"Catch ghosts? Brag and bounce! If he could catch ghosts, I would conjure up G.o.ds!"
Ma Tian'en followed Wu Zhong to get on the carriage in confusion while Wu sat in repose with his eyes closed.
Wu Zhong suddenly opened his eyes after the carriage drove for a while.
"Stop," Wu Zhong said.
"Ah. Stop. Stop." Somehow Ma Tian'en was obedient to Wu.
Wu Zhong got off the carriage, and Ma Tian'en followed. Wu Zhong let Ma Tian'en and several guards stay with him, but asked the coachman to drive the carriage back to Ma family.
Wu Zhong took them quickly into a roadside store. Having ordered something to eat and drink, Wu Zhong started to talk slowly.
"There were no ghosts in the granary. Indeed, it is a human being and I know exactly where she is."
"Ah!" The others were all shocked.
"Where does she hide?" Ma asked in haste.
"Hide on the beam." Wu Zhong pointed to the beam. "Did you notice the beam in the granary? It was wide enough for one person to hide. The man is supposed to be sliding along the wall with a rope and a grip so there were no footprints on the ground. When you went in, she hid behind it and that's why you all thought she disappeared."
"But why is there crying outside? She can't go outside from the beam." Ma Tianen flattered Wu Zhong by filling water cup for Wu.
"That's easily done because there are actually two people there. Wearing the same red clothes, long hair with similar figure, they would definitely be seen as one person, let alone you were all nervous at that time." Wu Zhong said with absolute certainty.
"Well, I see!" Ma Tian'en muttered and did not expect it to be so easy.
"Since you know the truth already, why not go in and search them directly? " the Uncle asked, still puzzled.
"New things will happen if we cannot figure out what's behind. Thieves are always here but can we catch them all? Tian'en had already caught one ghosts. Did it work? It's no use catching two more. It cannot be so simple. They are meaner than we thought. If ghosts were played by men, we will find them out eventually. How could they be so stupid?" Though not very clear about the wharf, Wu Zhong intuitively thought it was not that simple.
"Teacher, what do you think we should do now?" Originally, Ma Tian'en asked Wu Zhong to catch ghosts, which was just a try. If Wu did catch ghosts, it would be a great joy. If it didn't work, he could make fun of Teacher Wu later. He didn't expect that Wu Zhong found the flaws so quickly and her admiration for Wu Zhong increased.
"Just wait by the granary for them to turn up."
"You mean that we will go back to the granary and wait for the ghost to show up?" Ma Tian'en's brain turned and immediately understood Wu's idea. He deliberately made a departure and then went back unexpectedly to catch them off guard. Such a good idea! No wonder he is called a scholar!"
"However, we will wait for people who feed ghosts rather than ghosts to turn up." Wu Zhong took a sip of water and beckoned them to eat food. "Eat more for we gonna get a lot of work to do."
"I got it. You mean that if the ghost is a human being, he has to eat. We only need to wait and see who will give him food."
"You are worth teaching."
"It's you who are worth all the praise."
It soon grew dark and all people left. There were still people who were responsible for guarding the warehouse. But the haunted warehouse frightened people a lot and even the men on watch tried to keep away from it.
There was a figure sneaking around. Sneaking to the outer wall of the granary, he took out something from his arms, stuffed it in from the vent of the outer wall, and then quickly slid out along the wall.
"Sure enough, it's you. Ma Lian." He heard someone calling his name as soon as he slipped out. The first instinct was to turn tail and run. However, it was too late. Being pushed to the ground, he was stuffed in a sack, bound and gagged.
When he was released, he was already on a small boat. When Ma Lian crept out of the sack, he saw a group of people staring at himself, among them the most familiar was Uncle the Fifth. Knowing that things were not good, Ma Lian kowtowed in a hurry.
"I was wrong. My mistake. I was greedy. I was cheated by others. Childe, Uncle the Fifth, please forgive me. I am the backbone of my family. They cannot live without me. Please forgive me!" He knocked the ground heavily as he said.
"Such an ingrate. Forgive you? This will never happen." Uncle the Fifth kicked Ma Lian down.
"Okay, say what's going on?" Ma Tian'en came over and leaned forward, staring at Ma Lian.
"I will, I will tell you everything. I owe debt to Ruyifang---the casino. The butler of Tian family paid all my debt off. They asked me to help them so as to clear my debt off. What else can I do? So I had to agree. There is nothing I can do about it or they will chop my hands off." Ma Lian sobbed on.
"Cut the c.r.a.p. What did they ask you to do? How did you do?" Ma Tian'en said roughly.
"They asked me to send two packed cases with double-layer. The upper layer was full of rice and beneath the lower layer were... were people. I was forced by them. Childe, Uncle the Fifth, I know what I did was wrong. I was wrong." Everything is clear now. Ma Lian was addicted to gambling. Ruyifang was run by Tian family. He lost all his money in the casino as well as his own house. When his house was taken by the debtor, the butler of Tian family paid off his gambling debts and gave him ten taels on the condition that he must send two cases into the granary. The wharf was filled with loads, cases and people, so no one paid attention to these two identical cases mixed in the goods. In addition, Ma Lian was familiar with the man who was responsible for inspection so these two cases were allowed to pa.s.s through without thorough inspection. However, the granary was haunted the next day, which frightened him greatly. Then that butler came over again to ask him to stuff food in from the vent. He, beyond question, did not want to do that. But he threatened to rat him out if there was anything wrong. The very thought of his debt and being an accomplice eventually forced him to agree.
"They said one or two times is enough. So I, I agree temporarily." Ma Lian begged for mercy.
"Anything else?" Ma Tian'en said gently, " Think it over."
"Nothing else, Childe. No more. How dare I cheat you? I was just..."
Ma Tian'en stood up as Ma Lian said no more.
"Stuff him in the sack. Throw it down."