Chapter 4: Ghosts in the Alley at Night

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Qin Shiyue was still teaching at Ye Xin Girls’ Middle School every day, and I was still wearing my dresses to school.
In the beginning, I could sense that he always felt uncomfortable with my choice of attire, but he got used to it after a long time passed.

As far as I had found out, his daily itinerary was very simple.
Apart from walking between Ye Xin Girls’ Middle School and Jingde High School, there were only a few places he ventured to.
For example, his apartment, where he resided in.
Occasionally, he would go to the movies or ask a few friends out to the song and dance hall to pass the time.

These were the conclusions I found after observing for a while.
Now, despite the fact that the lanterns were already lit this early in the evening, I still persisted in my effort and called a rickshaw to follow Qin Shiyue in comfort.

Then, I saw him turning into a dilapidated alley.
Seeing that, I hurriedly followed him, but there was no sign of him that I could see.
Unwilling to give up, I proceeded forward.
However, there was no light or source of light like fire in the alley.
And the further I walked, the quieter it was.
I even had an illusion that the alley seemed to have no end and had swallowed people up.

When this thought entered my mind, my heart began to beat erratically as if there were a small drum playing inside my rib cage.
Although I believed in Christianity, owing to the time I lived abroad, I knew that God couldn’t save me at this moment.

There seemed to be a group of dark things moving in front of me.
The addition of moonlight shining in the alley further reminded me of the tale of a hundred ghosts’ parade.
When I thought of this, I was so scared that I became out of breath and about to run back with a scream in my throat.

However, at this time, I felt like there were more ghosts behind me.
At this thought, my legs softened and I immediately collapsed against the wall.

Suddenly, a beam of light shone on my face.
At this moment, a stray thought came to mind about my face. It must be paler than the moonlight, mustn’t it? Still, concern for my potentially unsightly appearance didn’t cross my mind.
Instead, my eyes were trying to see past the light, hoping to see something reassuring beyond it.

“It was you?” The moment Qin Shiyue saw me, his initially tense expression relaxed.
He was no longer as vigilant as he was.
However, I paid no heed to this change as I grabbed his jacket as if he was my last hope and stared at the ghosts around him.
Under the light of the flashlight, I finally saw their true forms.
Turns out, those ghosts were simply dirty children, who were looking at me curiously.

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These children lived in this dirty house deep in the alley, where there was only a dim little oil lamp to light up the space.
Then, twenty or thirty children would crowd together on the old mattress they had there.
When they were hungry, they would boil some dirty vegetables and eat leftovers from the garbage heaps.

“We’ve been much better ever since we met Uncle Qin.
At least, we haven’t been hungry or cold, and no one has died of illness,” The older child said.

“And your parents?”

“Most of us were separated from our parents when we were on the run, and some of us were abducted and sold by the human traffickers.
We only have this place to live in, so when someone came in by mistake, we pretended to be a ghost to chase them away.”

I then turned toward Qin Shiyue’s direction only to see he was giving a large bag of pastries to the children.
However, looking at the way the children wolfed down their foods without table manners, the slight disgust that I had initially weakened rose up again.
This made me very upset, so I stuffed the silver coins I had on me into the child’s hand and told him to buy something to eat.

After that, I turned around and went out of the door.

“Second Young Lady Ye, since you’re here, why don’t you sit down a little longer?” Qin Shiyue said as he closely followed me with a rogue-like behavior.
On his face, I could see the pride that was shining brightly from the fact that he was able to put me in this difficult situation.

Qin, will you please show me some respect? Who says that I was following you?” I said, concealing my guilty expression from view.
After all, he was a secret agent from the Nationalist Party.
If he knew that I had seen through his true identity, he might just fly into a rage out of humiliation and silence me permanently.

“Ye Bingqing, what’s up with your blush? Don’t tell me you have a crush on me?” Qin Shiyue opened his big mouth and spoke.
But at this time, the only thought I had in mind was about how the alley was so deep and that I might just be unable to get out.
Frightened, I turned around and pushed the other man hard.

Alas, the result was me being pressed against the wall by him.
With the moonlight highlighting his face, and with his face so close to mine, I was able to see him clearly.
However, looking into his eyes, I only felt that those eyes were lined with shadow; one that was deep enough to make people dare not look too deeply into it.

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“Let me go.”

“Say, why are you following me?” 

Qin Shiyue must have studied the art of changing face instantly.
Otherwise, how would he be able to behave frivolously at one moment then change to serious the next moment? That was something no normal person would be able to do.

Anyway, that aside, I was in a pinch right now.
After all, even if I were to make up a random excuse, I wouldn’t be able to fool him, let alone myself.
But still, I couldn’t let myself die under the hands of this kind of person.
At this time, perhaps because his face was too close to me, my attention was drawn into his eyes as his deep and shallow breath swayed my hair.
That kind of fierce eyes also encouraged my next move.
So, almost without letting myself have half a minute of hesitation, I ruthlessly kissed those thin lips.

At this, he looked at me, bewildered.
While feeling so, he heard my shy and resentful voice saying, “I like you.
Is this reason enough?”

I thought I won this time.

After all, to search the school at this time would mean giving a physical examination towards the older sisters in Ye Xin Girls’ Middle School.

He had only ever seen himself acting brazen and had never seen someone else act as thick-skinned as him.
Thus, Qin Shiyue insisted on sending me home.
And since I said I liked him, there was no reason for me to refuse his offer.

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Meanwhile, the Ye Family was in a mess because they didn’t receive a word from me.
And my father was so worried that he almost called the police station to search the city overnight.
However, before he could do so, I had already returned with a man in the middle of the night.

It was always easy to guess what people were imagining when they saw this kind of circumstance.

As such, it was natural that Mother was somewhat unable to keep a composed face, but she also didn’t dare to neglect the guest.
In the end, she offered the other good tea and water to entertain him.
Qin Shiyue also acted like he believed those hypocritical words that were used to entertain a guest and sat for a while.

Seeing this, I could only sit across him, unable to scold or blame him outwardly.
I could only listen to the family interrogating him while feeling as if I was sitting on pins and needles.
It wasn’t until the clock in the hall struck twelve o’clock that he got up and excused himself.
The moment he took his leave, the big stone in my heart finally fell to the ground.

At this time, Second Mother spat out the skin of melon seeds and said, “I have to say, Master, the young lady who came back from abroad is really different.
In the dead of the night, she went out with a man and even brought that man home…What if, by any chance, she caused a scandal that brought ruin to the family principles? At that time, don’t blame me, this second mother, for not reminding you.”

“Shut up!” Father slapped the table fiercely and ordered, “You go back upstairs.
My daughter isn’t someone to who you could teach those filthy lessons to!”

“Humph!” Second Mother was so angry that the color of her face changed to that of a pig’s liver.
However, she didn’t dare to contradict the head of the family so she simply went upstairs in a displeased mood.

I gently pulled the corner of my father’s clothes and decided to spare no effort in acting lovable.
“Dad, don’t be angry.
It’s all my fault.
I’ve been abroad for such a long time that my manners are like those of foreigners.
That’s all I’ve learned.
But if Dad doesn’t like it, I’ll change it so as to avoid angering you with some gossip.”

Listening to my words, my old father’s face softened.
He clasped my hand and said, “I can become accustomed to it.
I, Ye Guangrong, am also a person who has seen the world.
How can I wrong my daughter because of such trifles? Moreover, a man marrying a woman is natural, and that Teacher Qin can also be regarded as a young talent.
It’s also pretty good to have a relationship with him.”

“Dad, I understand.”

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“Oh, in addition, the driver will take you to the countryside early to visit your ancestors’ graves tomorrow morning.
As such, you don’t have to go to class.”

“Go to the grave? But isn’t ancestor worship supposed to be held next month?”

“You haven’t been following ancestor worship rituals for ten years, so you go alone first.
That way, perhaps, your ancestors won’t blame you for missing so many worships.”

I didn’t know why, but father looked a little absent-minded.
However, when he hastily told me to go back upstairs to rest, I obediently followed.
Passing by Tao Tao’s room, I saw someone peeping through the crack of the door with a bright eye.

“Tao Tao? Why are you still up?” I asked, taking her back to bed and settling her there.

“Second sister, what is ‘school search’?”

“My dear Tao Tao, from whom did you hear this from?”

“In the evening, an uncle in military uniform came.
He said he would search the school tomorrow.
After he left, papa dropped a teacup.” Tao Tao blurted out, eyes wide in fright as she asked, “Second sister, what on earth is ‘school search’?”

“Searching the school here means to check up on the elder sisters in Ye Xin Girls’ Middle School.
Don’t worry, it’s nothing bad.” I patted her face, assuring her.
At my assurance, the little girl put down her frightened heart and obediently got into the bed.
Meanwhile, my mind was swirling.

It turned out that tomorrow was the day for Colonel Lu to search the school.
No wonder my father used such a shoddy excuse to keep me away.
He must be afraid that my advanced thinking would make trouble for him again.

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