Chapter 24: Destroyed Silk
As everyone happily left with their silks, Li Wei Yang stayed back. Every afternoon, she would stay back to brew tea for Lao furen.
Lao furen was really interested in her lifestyle before coming back to the Li’s estate and would always question her about it.
In a gentle voice, Li Wei Yang would retell Lao furen of the interesting stories she has encountered at the Li’s in Ping Cheng.
However, Lao furen would shake her head and said, “San yatou, you are not speaking the truth.”
Looking at Lao furen with a pair of clear eyes, Li Wei Yang finally said after a few minutes, “Lao furen, do you really want to hear the truth?”
Lao furen nodded. “I want to hear the truth.”
Li Wei Yang took a deep breath. Regarding some things, if a person really wants to know then they will eventually discover the truth. So there was no need to hide it.
“I stayed at the Li’s in Ping Cheng until I was seven years old. The Prime Minister’s estate still hasn’t sent anyone to pick me up so they immediately sent me to the Zhou family living in the village. The matron of the Zhou’s family was Liu shi. She was very harsh and would usually never let me eat. When I was younger, I didn’t understand things so I would steal food from the kitchen but she would find out and punish me.” Li Wei Yang pulled up her sleeves, revealing the scars on her wrists. “Right here, on my back, on my legs, all have scars.”
Shocked, Lao furen stared at Wei Yang, unable to believe it. “Did you tell her that your father is the Prime Minister?”
Li Wei Yang chuckled. She knew Lao furen wouldn’t believe her, but it was the truth. “I cried and told Liu shi that my father was a courtier in the Capital, but instead she would scoff at me. I stayed with the Zhous for six years. In the summer, it was hard to sleep because of mosquito bites. In the winter, the bedroom was like a glacier. The Zhou’s daughter thought of me as a playhorse. My hands and knees were scraped to the point of bleeding. My fingers too were filled with wounds because of sowing and heavy housechores. Even my feet are calloused.” Her voice wasn’t loud, there was no anguish in her tone—she didn’t even mention the times when she was almost beaten to death—and yet, her leveled tone hinted of pain, hardship and helplessness.
Lao furen and Luo mumu were both still in horror.
Lao furen instinctively glanced at Wei Yang’s small hands before slowly and carefully reached for Wei Yang’s hands. It was then that she noticed there were scars on the delicate hands. The scars were faint so she hadn’t noticed it until now when she took a closer look.
Luo mumu shook her head. All the xiaojies in the Prime Minister’s estate were born with silver spoons in their mouths. They lived in luxury and were protected from the harsh reality but San xiaojie had to live it. In her veins ran the Prime Minister’s blood but she was bullied by a lowly farmer’s wife.
Staring at Wei Yang, Lao furen felt pain in her chest. She could not imagine how a young, seven year old girl could’ve survived day-after-day living in that environment, could not imagine what it had done to her maturity.
Lao furen slowly spoke up, “Child, you have suffered greatly. I didn’t know how harsh they had been to you—”
Li Wei Yang smiled. Her dark eyes seemed to be reflecting Lao furen’s face. “No, I didn’t feel suffering from those things. The thing that pained me the most was when the festivals came. I would watch Li laoye and his family go out to celebrate. I had wanted my father there so I could be spoiled, wanted to admire the flowers with father, celebrate the Lantern festival together, but other people would yell and scold me. They would say I was an orphan with no parents.” Li Wei Yang didn’t cry, simply because there are certain things in this world that, even if you cry, you won’t be able to attain it. This logic, she has known since she was young.
Lao furen gently held Wei Yang’s hands and said, “Child, you have come home. From now on, no one will be able to bully you anymore.”
Lao furen’s words, the sympathy in her eyes, were genuine. Li Wei Yang silently held tighter to Lao furen’s hands. That’s right, she has now returned. From now on, no one will be able to bully her. If being a nice person means getting bullied and trampled all over, she was going to be an evil person!
Lao furen smiled, her eyes showing genuine care. “Silly child, living here by myself is very lonely, you should come visit me often.”
Li Wei Yang knew that these words spoken by Lao furen was going to be her greatest guarantee. It was going to guarantee her future in the Prime Minister’s estate.
Returning to her quarters, she was immediately greeted by Zi Yan.
Li Wei Yang briefly glanced around. Hua Mei was outside with a duster, dusting the flower-patterned wooden panel. Wei Yang didn’t stop as she made her way inside.
In Bai Zhi and Mo Zhu’s hands were two brocades of extremely beautiful silk. Just once glance at the silk and it would invoke satisfaction.
Li Wei Yang allowed the two servants to set the silk on the table. Then she told Mo Zhu to leave while Bai Zhi stayed.
She placed her hand on the silk, feeling its luxury and beauty beneath her fingers. Out of the corner of her mouth, she said two words, “Tear it!”
Bai Zhi didn’t react in time but merely stood in one spot, surprised.
Li Wei Yang looked at Bai Zhi and calmly said, “What are you still doing standing there, tear them up.”
Although Bai Zhi was shocked, she still obeyed Wei Yang’s words. Grabbing one of the brocades, she pulled out a hair pin from her head and used it to rip apart the silk. The beautiful silk was soon destroyed in two.
The sun, coming from the East, shone through the windows into the chamber, causing the chamber to be drenched in a mixture of darkness and light. On the table, the beautiful silk sat. As the sound of the tearing continued, Li Wei Yang’s lips curled into a faint smile.
Bai Zhi faithfully obeyed Wei Yang’s instructions and shortly after, the silk was destroyed to the point of unrecognizable, pooling into a heap.
Having destroyed it, Bai Zhi was suddenly afraid. “Xiaojie, these silks were sent by Da shaoye. It’s to be used in the New Year, what if. . .”
Li Wei Yang blinked her eyes and said, “Bai Zhi, find a storage box and lock up this pile of destroyed silk.”
Bai Zhi immediately lowered herself to leave. “Yes, nubi has understood.” On the inside though, Bai Zhi was still suspicious. What was the point of locking away the destroyed silk?
At this moment, Hua Mei used the excuse of washing up and changing her clothes to leave for Fu An Yuan. She was feeling restless because of the exposed incident last time.
Yet Da furen had no intentions of scolding her but simply smiled and said, “Hua Mei, I have already given you instructions to take care of San xiaojie.”
Hua Mei found herself relaxing. Fortunately Da furen wasn’t angry.
Lin mumu approached Hua Mei and gently held her hand. In a tender voice, Lin Mumu reminded, “Furen’s intentions, do you understand?”
Hua Mei’s insides jumped then quickly nodded her head.
Lin mumu stopped in her steps. “Furen can forgive you this once, but there won’t be a second time!”
Hua Mei could feel Lin mumu’s hand at her side, like a snake worming its way into her skin. Hua Mei yelped quietly, desperately wanting to free herself, but Lin mumu pinched her back, using so much power that it felt like her nails were digging into Hua Mei’s skin.
Hua Mei was in so much pain that she couldn’t help scream for mercy. “Yes! Yes! Nubi will definitely look after San xiaojie carefully!”
Da furen’s hands moved along the red coral silk with a compassionate face as her mouth curled into a grin.