Lin Huilian would sell her own handmade silk flowers in the capital each month to support the family. As Bai Yang’s legs weren’t good, he wasn’t suitable for the heavy farm work, so the whole family could only rely on the money from her selling the silk flowers to live. The past life’s Wei Luo felt that while this lifestyle may be hard, it was actually very joyful. She also learned how to make silk flowers from Lin Huilian, making them even more appealing than hers. But she’d never imagined things would turn out like that in the end.
Now, seeing that face again, she recalled the feelings of disappointment from the past life. Looking at Lin Huilian, the first thought in her mind wasn’t about them being good to her, but the scene of that woman and Bai Yang pushing her into the coffin. The black mole at the corner of her mouth, that she had looked at for ten years, felt so unfamiliar right now.
Wei Luo received the pink silk flower that she was handed. Lost in thought, she held it for a long time without relinquishing her grip. Mrs. Lin and Song Hui both thought she liked it, Song Hui was even about to call for an aide to pay the money, but she unexpectedly trembled as if she was cold, and threw the silk flower at Mrs. Lin. Closely hugging Song Hui’s neck, she said, “Don’t want it! Big brother Song Hui, this flower smells very weird.”
Wei Luo’s words weren’t idle talk, falsely accusing Lin Huilian, but she had solid evidence.
The people who went to the capital to sell their silk flowers were many, but her craftsmanship wasn’t good, the flowers she made were less attractive than other people’s, so the business was naturally worse than theirs. In order to earn a living, she had no choice but to think of other means. She soaked vanilla in the silk flowers. The scent of vanilla was unique, and many young ladies became fond of it. But this scent made people easily addicted. Henceforth becoming dependent on it, if they didn’t get to smell it one day, they would feel uncomfortable all over.
Such an insidious business, the past Wei Luo had only found out about it when she was 15.
Mrs. Lin never let her wear this kind of silk flower, she only sold them to the rich families’ Misses from distant villages and the capital. Because she went to remote places, she hadn’t been discovered yet.
At Wei Luo’s current words, Mrs. Lin’s complexion turned pale. She didn’t know whether this little lady had found out anything wrong, and was furthermore afraid that other people may figure something out. If others thought there was a problem, she wouldn’t be able to come to the capital to do business anymore. She frantically picked up the silk flower from the ground, and turned around to leave, no longer trying to sell to Wei Luo.
Wei Luo watched her departing figure with a taut face, showing a dark and gloomy appearance.
Song Hui was amused by her solemn expression. Setting her down on the carriage, he pinched her tender face and asked: “How strange was the scent of that flower after all? It seemed to offend little sister Ah Luo’s nostrils.”
Wei Luo didn’t like people pinching her face, just as much as she didn’t like others seeing the tooth gap in her mouth. She puffed up her cheeks, pushing his hand away, “Hurts! Big brother Song Hui, don’t pinch me!”
The little girl’s skin was getting more and more delicate, moist, white and tender, making people unable to resist a touch. Song Hui let her go to take a look, and the places that were pinched by him really had a trace of red. He obviously hadn’t put any strength into it, so strange. Song Hui felt truly bad for her as he used his hands to rub gently. After rubbing for a little while, he couldn’t help laughing: “It really is fragile.”
Wei Luo didn’t answer, her brain was still occupied with her earlier encounter with Lin Huilian.
It shouldn’t have been long since they’d buried their son at the current date, her and Bai Yang were probably in the middle of mourning. If it wasn’t out of fear that the family would starve, Lin Huilian wouldn’t have come to the capital to sell silk flowers. But Wei Luo wasn’t concerned about this point, she was concerned whether they would adopt another little girl during their lifetime. Adopting someone, would they prepare a ghost marriage for their son with her?
Burying people alive wasn’t a trivial matter. If it was reported to the authorities, it was enough to convict them.
That pair of husband and wife weren’t only insane, but also lawless.
Moreover, what made Wei Luo bitterly disappointed was that the people in Longshou village were evidently all aware of their plans, yet not a single person warned her.
Wasn’t that considered as a tacit approval? Was her life of so little value in their eyes?
She was pursing her lips wordlessly. Song Hui had called her many times without getting an answer, while she looked forlorn and lost in thought. Thinking she was feeling ill, he got anxious, and was about to pinch her small palms: “Ah Luo!”
She finally returned to her senses. Raising her pair of dewy eyes, she uttered a soft ‘ah’. She noticed he had broken out in sweat, and held up a sleeve to wipe it away, “What is it big brother Song Hui? There’s sweat on your forehead.”
The pair of eyes had cleared up, glittery and spirited, the gloomy expression from a moment ago was gone.
Song Hui let out a breath, gripping her small hand as he asked: “What were you thinking about just now? I called you so many times but you didn’t answer.”
Wei Luo tilted her head, dragging the sound of her words and acting spoiled as she said: “I was sleepy just now… Big brother Song Hui, when are we going back home?”
So it turned out her eyes had been blurry from being tired. Song Hui found it a little ridiculous, getting frightened all by himself. There was nothing wrong with Ah Luo. He made her lie down on the wide red-lacquered seat with spiral decorations, and covered her with a blanket embroidered with gold and silver flowers. He said indulgently: “Ah Luo can rest awhile for now, when you open your eyes again, we’ll be home.”
She nodded and obediently closed her eyes, turning her back to the wall.
The little kid was actually very tired, and it didn’t take long for her breath to even out, as she fell asleep.
Back in Duke Ying’s residence, Song Hui carefully passed Wei Luo to the Nurse.
Having suddenly traded one embrace for another, she didn’t feel secure and whined in protest. Patting her back, the Nurse coaxed her into quickly going back to sleep.
The Nurse carried Wei Luo, entering the residence, while Song Hui stood outside the gate for a long time. Once he wasn’t able to see their figures any longer, he turned around to climb into the carriage.
The carriage quickly returned to Count Zhongyi’s residence. Song Baiye and Madam Xu were out and grandfather, Count Zhongyi, was old. Managing this big residence’s household affairs depended on Song Hui alone. He recalled the words Wei Luo had said today in Zhen Cui Zhai. Contemplating over them for a while, he still decided to make someone investigate about that day’s events.
Although the guards at Count Zhongyi’s residence weren’t as well-trained as Duke Ying’s elites, if they wanted to investigate something, it wasn’t difficult for them.
Not a long time later, one person came back to report: “Young master, it’s all true.”
Song Hui tightly gripped a small ceramic teacup in his hand, and said in a hoarse voice: “Give me the details.”
The guard retold the whole story of that day, including Madam Du coming in contact with the slave traders; Nurse Jin shouldering the blame for her and getting beaten to death by the Duke residence’s people; as well as the discovery of Madam Du’s pregnancy, and her present confinement in a small courtyard… It seemed Wei Luo’s words were all true, Madam Du had seriously wanted to sell her.
That was simply unforgivable.
Done listening, Song Hui was silent for a long time. Without any warning, he flung the teacup far away.
The small teacup smashed into pieces as it fell on the ground. The guard below was petrified, not daring to open his mouth again.
A while later, he stood up, saying: “Don’t let my parents know of this matter yet. When they come back from Luoyang, I’ll tell them personally.”
The guard complied, and seeing that he had no more orders, tactfully withdrew from the room.
Song Hui spent a lot of time sitting in the main hall, without calling for anyone to attend to him. The maids didn’t dare act on their own initiative either.
The young master’s disposition was the gentlest, he almost never lost his temper. Today he got angry enough to smash a teacup, it could be clearly seen his anger wasn’t small. They didn’t know what had occurred inside, trying to guess the reason secretly, but they weren’t able to come up with the correct answer all along. By the time the sun set in the west, with the clouds turning an impressive rosy color, no light was lit in the main room, and it was thoroughly dark inside. Only then did he slowly walk out.
Duke Ying’s residence.
Wei Luo slept until the next morning. As soon as she opened her eyes, she started looking for the longevity bracelet she had bought yesterday. With great difficulty, she found it under the flower decorated pillow. She didn’t even bother putting on her shoes, when she set out to find Changhong.
Her black hair was spread over her back, accentuating her delicate and nimble form. Beneath a green muslin skirt, a pair of bare white feet stepped on the floor, but she didn’t dislike the cold. No one would be able to block her path if she ran. Fortunately, Wei Kun came out around then. He crouched by the door and brought her into his embrace. Hugging her as he stood up, he asked: “Where does Ah Luo want to go in such a hurry?”
Holding the longevity bracelet, Ah Luo twisted her body, “Daddy, bring me to Changhong quickly, I have something to give him.”
Wei Kun raised his eyebrows curiously, “What thing?”
She had no choice but to take out the longevity bracelet. She didn’t expect that after Wei Kun saw it, he would praise her greatly for being considerate and knowing how to take care of her younger brother as a proper elder sister.
The weather in the early morning was chilly. Walking barefoot, it was easy to catch a cold. Wei Kun personally put red satin shoes with stitched patterns on her feet. Once she was done dressing and washing up, he led her to the central building to find Changhong. Breakfast dishes were already arranged on the table in the central building. Changhong was seated behind the red-lacquered cedar round table, waiting for them with an upright posture.
Wei Luo crossed over the threshold, walking up to him impatiently. All smiles, she said: “Give me your hand, I’ll give you something good.”
Changhong offered his hand confused. He only saw her putting on a show of taking out a five-colored string from behind her, then lowering her eyes to carefully tie it around his wrist, making a knot at the end, “This is called a longevity bracelet. Nurse said that putting it on, all your life you’ll be safe and sound.”
She didn’t like how plain the string was at first, so she had made Jin Lu add an east sea pearl to it. The pearl was glossy, smooth and round. Though it wasn’t big, it was very valuable. This pearl had been given to Ah Luo as a birthday gift by Duke Ying, and she had stored it in a small box straight away. She couldn’t bear to wear it, only occasionally taking it out to have a look. This time she was calmly giving it to Changhong, it was obvious that she wasn’t a stingy person.
As Changhong heard her say the last few words, he wanted to take the bracelet off. He spoke solemnly: “I don’t want it… You wear it, and be safe.”
Wei Luo saw he seriously wanted to take it off, and immediately glared at him with round eyes, pursing her lips to threaten: “You can’t. If you dare take it off, I’ll get angry.”
He froze at once.
This trick never failed. Changhong was most afraid of her anger, so whenever she threatened him like that, he would immediately turn obedient and do what he was told.
A short while later, a neatly dressed Wei Zheng walked in and sat opposite of Wei Luo. She was wearing a turquoise muslin top with weaving indigo peony patterns, her hair styled in two buns. After greeting Wei Kun, she started eating her meal. While she ate, she never spoke a word to them, but concentrated on finishing her food so she could leave. She wasn’t able to get along with Wei Luo and Changhong, and the two of them also didn’t pay her any attention. The atmosphere was unexpectedly peaceful that way.
Done with breakfast, Wei Kun put down his chopsticks and spoke to the children: “The day after tomorrow is the birthday banquet for the Empress, and the palace has invited our Duke house to go. The three of you should behave later, don’t get in any trouble.”
Wei Luo gulped a mouthful of the shredded chicken congee with mushrooms. Ever since her front tooth fell, she didn’t dare eat steamed buns, afraid that the other incisor may also wind up in her belly. Having heard everything, she lowered her head slowly, and couldn’t help letting her mind wander. In her previous life, she’d never had the chance to visit the palace, and naturally hadn’t seen Empress Chen. She’d heard that Empress Chen possessed a noble aura, with an extraordinary bearing, dignified and magnanimous. She had stood on the battlefield side by side with Emperor Chong Zhen. She was so remarkable, but why did the Emperor favor Noble Consort Ning?
Wei Luo propped her chin up, feeling curious.
She wanted to meet this female general of Daliang, and take a look at what kind of person she was.
However, recalling that the Empress was Zhao Jie’s mother, her enthusiasm waned a little.
She still hadn’t forgotten that he’d mocked her, alright!
She didn’t believe he’d never had his front tooth fall out, yet he still wanted to look at other people’s mouths. Was it that funny? Wei Luo pouted, thinking he was really tactless.
Notes: Someone volunteered to help me translate! Her name is Munchkin, and she also helped with the editing of this chapter, which certainly made it easier for me, since I tend to get too lazy and just post the chapter after a simple spellcheck. You guys will see more of her starting from the next chapter~
Also, August will be busy for me, but I’ll try to translate a little each day. I probably won’t disappear for a whole month…