Today we will continue our story about YingNing , the laughing girl from the book Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio 聊斋 志异.
Last time we talked about Wang ZiFu found the girl he fell in love with and was invited into the house to stay for a while
The next day Wang ZiFu went to the garden behind the house with a well-kept lawn and plenty of trees and flowers. There was an arbor consisting of three posts. Walking through the flowers, he heard some noise from the trees and looking up saw YingNing on it who at once burst out laughing and nearly fell off. “Don’t! Don’t! Be careful!” cried Wang ZiFu. YingNing tried to get down from the tree giggling all the time until when she was near the ground, she missed her hold and tumbled down with a run. This finally stopped her laugh. Wang ZiFu helped her to stand up and gently squeezed her hand. YingNing began to laugh again leaning against a tree.
Wang ZiFu waited until she finished laughing and then took the flower out of his sleeve. “It is dead. Why are you still keeping it?” asked YingNing. “You dropped it on the Lantern Festival so I keep it. ” “What is the point of keeping it?” asked YingNing. “To show my love that I will never forget. Since the first time we met, I have a love sickness and thought I would die. It is my luck to meet you again, I pray you have pity on me.” “It is a piece of cake.I am your cousin. If you need flowers, I will tell the servants get a whole basket full of flowers when you leave.” YingNing replied. “Did you not understand what I said?” Wang ZiFu asked. “I don’t care about flowers but the person who picked the flower.” “Of course” answered she, “everybody cares about their relatives.” Wang ZiFu said, “I wasn’t talking about the ordinary relations but the love between husband and wife.” “What’s the difference?” asked YingNing. “Husband and wife sleep together at night.” YingNing lowered her head and thought for a while said, “I am used to sleep with strangers.” Wang ZiFu saw a maid walking towards to them and slipped away.
Later, they all met in the old woman’s room. The old woman asked, “where did you go?” YingNing replied, “we were talking in the garden. ” The old woman said, “the dinner has been ready for a while. I can’t think what you had to say all this while.” YingNing said, “my cousin said he wanted to sleep with me.” Wang ZiFu was so ashamed and made her a sign to her to be quite so she smiled and said no more. It is lucky that the old woman was a little deaf and didn’t catch the words. Wang ZiFu whispered to YingNing , “our conversation is private and is not supposed to tell others.” YingNing said, “I never hold any secrets from my mother, besides, what harm can there be talking about sleeping together?” Wang ZiFu sighed and thought YingNing was such a naive and innocent girl. He didn’t know what to do the let her understand.
After dinner, the servants from Wang ZiFu’s family came to find him. Because his mother couldn’t find him after he left in the village and they remember this location Mr.Wu mentioned. Wang ZiFu told the old woman and begged her to let him bring YingNing to go back with him. “I have had the idea in my head for a long time. But I am too old to travel. If you will take care of my girl and introduce to her to her aunt, it would be wonderful. ”
So she called YingNing who came up laughing as usual. Whereupon the old woman commented, “what makes you always laugh? You would be a perfect girl if you stop being that silly. You cousin wants to talk you to visit the families. Go ahead and get ready.” The old woman provided refreshment for the servants from Wang ZiFu’s family and told YingNing that her aunt was quite well enough off to maintain her, she had better stay there for a while and study the basic principles and books. So she could marry to a good husband in the future with the help of her aunt.
So off they left, when they reached the brow of the hill, they looked back and could still see the old woman leaning against the door gazing towards the north. When they arrived home, his mother was surprised to see such a good-looking girl and asked him who she was. Wang ZiFu told her YingNing was his cousin, the daughter of his aunt’s. “It was all made up by Mr. Wu. He was lying to you about the location and your cousin. ” cried his mother, “I had a sister married to the Qin’s family but she died many years ago. She can’t be still alive ” she asked about the details about what the old woman looked like and was obliged to acknowledged the identity.
When she was wondering how she could be still living, Mr. Wu came to visit. YingNing retired within. Mr. Wu was lost in astonishment as well after hearing the whole story. He thought for a while and asked, “is the young lady’s name YingNing?” Wang ZiFu confirmed him and asked how he knew. “Mr. Qin was bewitched by a fox spirit after his wife’s death and subsequently died. The fox had a daughter named YingNing. Even after Mr. Qin’s death, the fox spirit frequently came back to visit. The families invited the Taoist priest to exorcise it. The fox then left with her daughter YingNing. Now here she is.” While they were talking, peals of laughter were heard from within. Wang ZiFu’s mother remarked what a silly and innocent girl she was. Mr. Wu asked to be introduced and YingNing came out with a bow. Then she ran back into the room and burst out laughing again. Everyone was amused by her laugh.
Mr. Wu suggested he would go to visit YingNing’s family and find out more about the story and plus he could arrange the marriage. Like some stories we talked about before, this time he came to the same location, there weren’t any houses just some flowers scattered on the hills. He remembered Mr. Qin had buried not too far, but he couldn’t find the grave either.
Wang ZiFu’s mother told YingNing what Mr. Wu found at her home, YingNing showed no signs of fear or alarm. Neither did she cry about she was alone now even when Wang ZiFu’s mother condole with her on no long having a home. She still laughed in a silly way.
If you want to find out what happens next, check out our next episode.
聊斋 志异 Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio