Wuxiaworld > A Guest in a Ghost House > Chapter 7 The Old Woman in the Shroud Shop

Chapter 7 The Old Woman in the Shroud Shop

Chapter 7 The Old Woman in the Shroud Shop
It was the first time I had seen a shroud shop in a busy business district, but then I figured that only those who opened such a shop would dare open up so close to the ghost building.

Although the ghost building was scary, it was practically a tourist hotspot because of its popularity, and many young boys and girls even took photos with the haunted house in the background.

I hesitated for a moment and came to the conclusion that if I wanted to find out something about the three photos, the shroud shop was probably a better bet for getting some information than the watch stall.

As soon as I approached the door of the shroud shop, the quiet voice of the old lady in the store could be heard, “They just take photos. Those people just love taking photos!”

At the mention of photographs, I felt my heart grow cold. I glanced at the people still taking photos and forced myself to ask the old lady, “Excuse me dear elder, what do you mean about the photos?”

The old lady glanced at me with her muddy eyes and continued to swat at the flies.

Judging from the reaction of the old lady, I knew that she heard what I had just said, yet she still didn’t reply. For a while, I also didn't know what to say to her. If it was the other shop, I could pretend to buy something and exchange a few words with the vendor, but the key point was that this was a shroud shop, meant to supply people clothes for mourning.

Fortunately, the old lady spoke first, “Young man, come in and take a seat.”

I nodded, glanced at the wreath and shroud on the wall, and walked into the shop slowly.

The old lady pointed to a stool and asked me to sit. She then picked up a funerary golden paper ingot and handed it to me.

I wanted to cry, but held back my tears and took the gold ingot. I suddenly realized that the old lady was treating me as a customer. I noticed that her gold paper ingot was of high quality. When my family members died, I had seen a lot of funerary golden paper ingots. However, none of them was as delicate as this, which looked like so genuine.

The old lady nodded with a smile, revealing her toothless mouth, “Buy some, please. These are only available in my shop, It’s something they would want.”

They? I was startled by the old woman's words, but quickly realized that “they” referred to dead relatives.

So I explained, “Dear elder, I didn’t come here to buy golden paper ingots”

The old lady shook her head, “Are you certain you didn’t come for them?”

Of course I hadn’t come for them! It was never my intention to come for them! I could no longer understand what the old lady was talking about.

I came for them.

Who were “they”?

“They” want golden paper ingots?

It felt like something had clicked and my eyes drifted in the direction of the ghost building.

The old lady must have noticed my glance, as she said with smile, “That's it. I was beginning to think I was getting too old and had gotten it wrong.”

Although the street was less than 3 meters away from where I sat, was full of people enjoying the nice day with the sun high in the sky, I still felt cold all over my body. My teeth were quivering and I couldn’t speak for a moment.

The old lady took the golden paper ingot from my hand and tried comforting me, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid.”

I plucked up the last of my courage to ask her, “Dear elder, you know something, don’t you?”

The old lady smiled at me again, revealing her toothless mouth, “I know, but I also don’t know. It’s my neighbor’s business, so perhaps it’s best I don’t get involved.”

“Dear elder, you speak the truth, but isn’t it a little inappropriate to regard them as your neighbors?”

The old lady stopped talking and just took out a large stack of paper from one side and slowly began making more golden paper ingots.

I tried several times to speak with her, but she only smiled. She either said nothing, or would say something irrelevant.

When the old lady finished folding her paper ingots, she stretched out her hand to get some more golden paper.

I hastened to speak, “Dear old lady, do you think if I bought them some golden paper ingots, They won’t come after me anymore?”

The old woman took back her outstretched hand and simply said, “They won’t”

I nodded and asked tentatively, “Dear elder, can I burn some at your place?”

She shook her head and said slowly, “You burn it for them, not for me!”

I thought I had said something wrong, but fortunately the old lady didn't mind, so I apologized to her and asked, “Must I burn it at the door, dear old lady?”

The old woman continued to shake her head, “At the door? No. You have to get in the house. You will find a ceremonial fire basin in the hall and burn it there. Really, young people these days don’t know any of our traditions at all⋯”

I didn’t care at all about the old lady's preaching. I was not afraid of burning it at the door. At most, I would be laughed at or detained by the police. However, going into the house⋯ Although I had decided numerous times to confront it, I was still petrified of going in.

The old lady seemed to read my mind and as she laid out the folded golden paper ingots, she began muttering almost as if she was talking to herself, “If you said you would burn them an offering, it'll make them angry if you don’t. Now I’ll get you a bag⋯”

She stood up and went into the back room.

I wanted to cry. At that moment, I even suspected that the old lady had opened her shop there in order to sell her things with the help of the haunted house’s fame.

My thoughts were interrupted by the old lady's voice coming from the back of the store, “People are dead. Why are they still taking photos?”

The photos! I was shocked to find that the old lady knew about the photos.

This was the final straw. I got up and headed for the dark back room.

As soon as I reached the door, the old lady came out and glared at me as if she were very unhappy with my attempt at trespassing.

Nevertheless, I didn't have time to concern myself with what the old lady was thinking and instead, I just asked hastily, “Dear elder, do you know about the photos?”

She stared at me again and waved me back to my seat. Then she took out a large bag and put the newly folded ingots in it. She put a lot of things in it, even a pair of little shoes and clothes. I also heard her counting to 108.

The old lady spent a long time putting it all in the bag. Afterward, she passed me a box of very old-looking matches from the counter and said, “All right. All the things are here. Remember to light them with the matches”

I took it blankly and habitually asked, “How much?”

“10 Yuan”

I was stunned that all these things only cost 10 Yuan. Although I didn't know the market value of the items very well, I did know that so many things were surely more than 10 Yuan.

Perhaps the old lady noticed my blank expression, because she repeated herself, “10 Yuan”

Finally, my mind came back. I hastily took out 100 Yuan from my pocket and handed it over since I didn’t have any change in my pocket.

The old lady took the money, threw it in a box and said, “Remember, tomorrow at midnight, you must go to the house and burn these in a fire basin.”

12:00 at night? Was she trying to scare me to death?

The old lady saw that I wasn’t moving and frowned, “Why are you still here?”

I extended my hand and pointed to the 100 Yuan I had just given her. The old lady looked at the 100 Yuan note and said, “No change. You can’t get change”

Even though I figured she was just trying to rip me off, I really didn't think it was necessary to argue with such an old woman.

Then I quickly asked the same question again. I gave her so much money, she could at least tell me something I wanted to know⋯

“Dear elder, do you know anything about the photos?”