In mid-February, the weather grew warmer. Sunlight streamed through the windows, bathing the study in warmth and tranquility. Ming Wei sat by the window, listening to the conversation between the nanny and mother.
“There are three people on sick leave in the kitchen, two in the flower room, and some of the cleaning staff are also ill. Chunyu Niang came over this morning and said that she is getting older and wants to leave the estate…”
Su Jie interjected, “Bah! What do you mean getting older? Isn’t it because of the haunting in the garden? She wants to run away, right? That sounds better!”
Madam Ming smiled gently, “It’s just human nature. Everyone saw what happened that day, it wouldn’t be fair to make them accompany us to death.”
Su Jie grumbled, “I didn’t see them holding back on receiving rewards on normal days. As soon as something happens, they run faster than anyone else. Madam is too kind…”
Ming Wei glanced at Madam Ming. This statement had a Zen-like quality to it. Few people in the this world lived as clear-sighted as Madam Ming , and even fewer combined such clarity with kindness. Ming Wei thought that she should find an opportunity to “improve” herself. Would she be pleased if she improved? Besides, there were limited things she could do in her current role as the foolish young lady.
“Does Madam mean it’s approved?” the nanny asked.
Mrs. Ming San nodded, “Give her twenty taels of silver, let her leave the estate with dignity. We won’t need to recruit more people if some are on sick leave. At this time, having more people won’t help; it might even invite more trouble.”
The nanny agreed, “Madam’s thinking is considerate. I will instruct them to be cautious and not spread rumors outside.”
Outside the window, there was a commotion. Madam Ming said, “Su Jie, go and see what’s happening.”
Su Jie was about to respond when another maid, Bing xin, rushed in, “Madam! Fourth Master has come with people again!”
At the mention of the Fourth Master, the nanny furrowed her brows.
“Please tell us more,” Madam Ming said calmly. “What kind of people has Fourth Master brought? How many of them, and do we know their intentions?”
Bing xin said anxiously, “There are about a dozen of them, all strong male servants, and they’re carrying shovels and sticks… Madam, should we hide?”
Madam Ming chuckled, “Fourth Master going to attack me? Don’t worry, go and see first.”
Ming Wei followed Madam Ming quietly as they went outside.
“Do you see that line? Dig according to it!”
“These trees need to be cut down; they’re obstructing the view.”
By the time they reached the lakeside, it was in chaos, with holes dug everywhere.
Ming Si, who was supervising the work, looked over at Ming San casually. “Oh, Third Sister-in-law is here!”
Madam Ming furrowed her brow, “Fourth Uncle, what are you doing?”
Ming Si’s expression was cold, “Didn’t you say there’s a ghost? I’m helping you enclose the haunted area so that your people can have peace of mind. Otherwise, with all the rumors, people might think our Ming family is done for!”
“Fourth Uncle!” the nanny couldn’t hold back. “The Taoist priest said the evil spirit is on that tree. Bringing so many people, what if something goes wrong?”
Ming Si glanced at her and spoke without restraint, “You old hag, how dare you speak up? Shut up! If you make a fuss again, I’ll have someone strip your pants and give you a beating. Let’s see if you can still have any dignity then!”
The nanny turned pale with anger. She was Madam Ming’s wet nurse, and beating her would be like beating Madam Ming herself.
This Fourth Master, he dared to act like this! Initially, the two Second Masters of the Ming family were said to be twins, but their personalities were completely different. One was gentle and known as a true gentleman, while the other was impulsive and difficult to get along with. When Madam married the Third Master, she had considered herself lucky. Who would have thought that the Third Master would pass away so soon, leaving the family to the Fourth Master? When nothing was wrong, it was fine, but when trouble arose, the Fourth Master’s words were always laced with threats.
Blaming the circumstances, Madam Ming didn’t get angry. She gave a signal to the nanny to step back and spoke, “Fourth Uncle, how do you plan to enclose it?”
Ming Si, who had withdrawn his gaze, pointed to the lakeside, “Since this area is secluded, I’ll build a wall here to separate it. It won’t affect you.”
Madam Ming carefully examined it for a moment and nodded, “Very well, Fourth Uncle. In my residence, we have only maids and servants. Please make sure your staff behaves. Also, tell them not to approach that tree. In case of any mishaps, it won’t be good.”
Ming Si’s tone softened, “Understood.”
Madam Ming gave a polite bow and then turned to leave.
As they walked a distance away, the nanny asked, “Madam, are we really leaving it to Fourth Master?”
Madam Ming replied, “What he said makes sense. By enclosing that area, everyone can feel at ease.”
Ming Wei, who was walking at the back, asked Duo fu, “Who is he?”
Duo fu didn’t understand, “Who is Miss referring to?”
Ming Wei pointed her finger at Ming Si.
Duo fu said, “That’s Fourth Master, doesn’t Miss recognize him?”
“Is that so?” Ming Wei murmured.
She had a habit since she was young – she wasn’t good at recognizing people unless they had very distinctive features. Otherwise, she needed to see them several times to remember. Later, her master taught her how to sense a person’s aura. Everyone had a unique aura, and even if their appearances were similar, their auras rarely matched.
Since then, she had relied on sensing auras to recognize people and hadn’t made mistakes. But just now, she felt that Ming Si’s aura was different from the previous encounter. Was it because she had changed bodies and her sensitivity was still recovering, causing her to make a mistake?
“Miss, shall we go back?” Duo fu urged her again.
Ming Wei wanted to turn around, but felt something was wrong, so she took a few more glances at the lake.
These male servants dug a few small pits around the willow tree and buried a few paper bags in them. One of the paper bags had a corner missing, and a little red was spilling out.
The way she looked at Master Ming Si became meaningful.
“Yes.” Ming Wei turned and walked back to the house.
This seemingly simple matter had suddenly become complicated.
“Duo fu, what did they say about the ghost they saw earlier?”
Duo fu thought for a moment, “Xiao said it was a white shadow, Jiu’er said it was someone wearing a costume, and what’s strange was that Liu’er claimed it was a bald monk! How can a monk be a ghost? Aren’t they supposed to go to heaven when they die?”
“They all saw different things?”
“Yes, each had their own description. Miss,
maybe they saw it wrong. What we saw that day was clearly different from what they described.”
Ming Wei thought, that’s right.
In a setup like this, they usually used ancient objects with a weak spiritual sense, not yet transformed into malicious spirits. They could only manifest themselves but weren’t harmful.
The ones in costumes might be from a theater troupe, and the bald monk could be from a temple.
Therefore, in this setup, there was one element that didn’t fit: the creature that terrified Ming Qi.