All the men of the village held torches and searched along the official road that led to town. Halfway on the road, they discovered the remains of the donkey cart hanging on the cliff and the shoe of a young girl… Ay! What a pity! She was such a lively and cute little girl ah! She had lost her life at such a young age…
Many of the villagers silently educated their children in private: In the future, when traveling on that section of the mountain road, one had to be extra careful so as to not fall all the way down the cliff like the daughter of the Yu Family.
On the second day, a tiny ‘corpse’ covered by a white cloth was placed in the Yu Family’s courtyard. The entire Yu Family was shrouded in a ‘grieving’ atmosphere. When the news traveled to the Yu Residence, Madam Zhang lifted her brow and nearly laughed out loud, ‘She deserved it! That unfilial wretch always went against me! It seems like even the heavens finally couldn’t stand it anymore, right?’
Old Yu, on the other hand, hastily walked towards the old residence with unsteady steps. When he entered the yard and saw the figure covered by a white cloth on a wooden bed, he muttered, “What happened? The road has already been fixed, so why did she still fall off the cliff? My granddaughter ah, why do you have such a pitiful life ah?”
With his head lowered, Yu Hai squatted beside the wooden bed motionlessly, as if he was a sculpture. He didn’t dare look up for fear that others could see through him. Under the white cloth was the haystack that he made with grass last night. Old Fang said that he had to feign a sorrowful expression, but how was he supposed to pretend ah…
Yu Hang, who stood on the side, rubbed his eyes hard until they turned red before he lifted his head and called Old Yu, “Grandfather…”
Xiaolian was really crying. She thought of how she had this lingering sense of fear yesterday that something was going to happen. Sure enough, Xiaocao had encountered bandits and nearly lost her life. Her younger sister was so clever, lovely, and capable ah! Yet that vile person actually wanted to harm her younger sister. When they found the real culprit, they should also let her get a taste of being thrown off a cliff!!
Little Shitou sobbed loudly, “Second Sister ah, Second Sister… Little Shitou won’t let you go. Second Sister, please open your eyes and look at Little Shitou again…” Uh, he was howling without tears!
As for Madam Liu, since she didn’t know how to act, the family was afraid that she would slip up and they wouldn’t be able to find the real culprit. Thus, they told her to hide in the room, and to the public, they said that she was so sad that she had fainted from crying!
Fang Zizhen and Lady Fang also stayed beside the tiny body. One was filled with righteous indignation and vowed to avenge his daughter, while the other silently wept and fell beside the bed several times. As someone from a big, noble family, who wouldn’t have a little bit of acting skills? Lady Fang’s crying was so genuine that several women in the village also wept unceasingly and repeatedly comforted her.
Seeing this mournful scene in front of him, Old Yu deeply sighed and squatted on the ground holding his head silently. Although he usually didn’t take much notice of this younger granddaughter of his, if she really died, he still felt very sad in his heart.
At noon, the people who came to help had mostly left. A familiar horse carriage stopped in front of the Yu Family’s house, and a slender and delicate figure came down from the carriage. She stumbled into the house and cried sadly, “Younger Cousin! Why did you suddenly leave like this?”
Lady Fang raised her head and looked at her niece with her reddened eyes. Her gaze was deep and calm, “Furong, you came back? Are you feeling better now? Also, how did you know about your younger cousin’s accident?”
Xia Furong’s whimper paused briefly before she swiftly recovered and sadly said, “Aunt, don’t be too mournful ah! As soon as I entered the village, I heard someone talking about Younger Cousin’s matter… It’s such a pity for Younger Cousin to encounter such a disaster at a young age… Younger Cousin, how can you bear to let Aunt see her child die before herself ah!”
She was truly a great actress; tears kept seeping out of her eyes as if they were free. Xiaocao, who was hiding in the storage room, watched Xia Furong’s series of performances with great admiration. Sure enough, none of the people who had experienced the infighting of the inner courts of ancient times were easy to deal with!
Since ‘the deceased’ was underage and a girl, she couldn’t be buried in the village’s ancestral grave, nor could they make any grand arrangements for her funeral. They could only select an area in the common grave at the south side of the mountain, roll her body up in a straw mat, and bury her in a pit. Xia Furong took part in the whole process. After she personally saw the ‘corpse’ being buried, she made an excuse early in the morning the next day and quickly rushed to town.
Fang Zizhen and the Yu Family took the two bandits and followed Xia Furong to town. The two bandits, who had been arranged by Fang Zizhen to hide in the dark at the Yu Residence, had confirmed that Zixiang, who was beside Xia Furong, was the person who made the deal with them.
To catch a thief, one must find the evidence first. In order to prevent Xia Furong from quibbling, Fang Zizhen and the Yu Family caught them red-handed as Zixiang gave the rest of the money to the bandits.
When the Fang Zizhen couple, Yu Xiaocao, and the rest of the Yu Family brought the two bandits and Zixiang in front of Xia Furong, this young girl, who was only thirteen, had actually wanted to continue making excuses.
She looked at Zixiang with deep pain and scolded in a tone as if she hated the iron from not becoming steel, “Zixiang, you have done wrong ah! Although we’re as close as sisters, I never expected you to avenge me in this way! Younger Cousin didn’t get along with me and stole a lot of things that originally belonged to me, but… I really never thought about taking her life ah!!”
Lady Fang looked at her silently, sneered, and said, “Furong, you said Xiaocao stole the things that originally belonged to you? I want to ask you what exactly did she take from you? When did our Fang Family’s properties become the Xia’s?”
Xia Furong could still calmly change her words at this time, “Aunt, it’s Niece’s mistake! This happened because Zixiang saw that Younger Cousin has taken all of Aunt’s doting love and felt angry for me, so she ended up doing something wrong. Please Aunt, for the sake of Niece, let her die painlessly!”
Zixiang opened her eyes wide and had an astonished expression on her face as she looked at her selfish young miss speaking. The young miss was planning on putting all the blame on her ah. She was being wronged!! When Young Miss ordered her to do it, she had tried to persuade her against it. But at that time, Young Miss’s heart had already been blinded by hatred and jealousy, so she wouldn’t listen to anyone. She didn’t know how the young miss found the two ruffians in town. She took out her savings and instructed her to hire the two ruffians as hitmen. How did she ended up being the mastermind now, while the young miss turned into an innocent person?
She had wanted to defend herself, but she noticed the young miss’s warning gaze. Zixiang felt a burst of coldness in her heart. She was the child of servants of the Xia Household. Her parents and younger brothers were all in the hands of the Xia Family. If she told the truth, not to mention whether she could avoid being punished for her crime, but it would also implicate her family…
Zixiang’s heart was like dead ashes—utterly dissipated. Her legs went limp and she fell to the ground. She trembled and said, “This lowly… this lowly servant deserves to die. This lowly servant couldn’t bear to see the young miss being wronged, and this committed this hideous crime. This lowly servant deserves to die…”
“Wronged? My Fang Family provides you with good food and drinks. Every season, you received the same amount of clothes and jewelry as the family of officials. When did I, your aunt, ever treat you unfairly?”
As if she didn’t hear Zixiang ‘pleading guilty’, Lady Fang stared fixedly at Xia Furong and felt a sense of coldness in her heart. After being exposed for doing something wrong, she could still calmly push it off to others and let a maidservant, who was as close as sisters with her, become her scapegoat, yet she didn’t even feel a sense of guilt and shame at all. She had raised an ungrateful and vicious person ah! These years, she had treated this niece of hers too well and raised this thirteen year old girl to become too ambitious and greedy!
Xia Furong hastily said, “Although Aunt and I don’t have a mother and daughter relationship, we have feelings that are akin to a pair of mother and daughter. Niece has always been grateful within my heart…”
With a voice that was like heavy water, Lady Fang interjected, “You’re right about that. After all, we’re not mother and daughter. Your surname is Xia, not Fang! Everything that belongs to the Fang Family has nothing to do with you in the future! You have to be clear about this!”
There was finally a change in Xia Furong’s complexion. With a pale face, she stammered, “Why did Aunt say that? Niece has never dared to have such wishful thinking…”
“It’s good that you know it’s wishful thinking!! Xiaocao is the goddaughter that I recognized. If the Fang Family doesn’t have any descendants in the future, all of the Fang Family’s properties will belong to her! As for you, you’re merely a relative from the Xia Family who’s temporarily staying at the Fang Family’s house, and that’s all! What rights do you have to compare with Xiaocao?” Lady Fang was obviously very familiar with the infighting of the inner courts; she directly attacked the vulnerability of the opponent.
After all, Xia Furong was just a teenage girl. She couldn’t control the anger in her heart anymore. The expression on her face became ferocious, “Why! Aunt, I have accompanied you for so many years. Am I not better than a peasant girl whom you have only known for less than half a year? Aunt, think about it. Who was the one beside you when you were lonely during these past few years? Who was the one by your side when you were sick? Who was the one who acted silly to cheer you up when you were sad? What’s so good about this stupid girl of humble origin? Why are all of you treating her so well and doing so much for her? I can’t accept this!! How is she better than me??”
After her niece revealed her true colors, Lady Fang still looked calm and indifferent. The indifference in her eyes gradually stopped Xia Furong’s clamor.
Lady Fang sighed and said, “Furong, you seem to have forgotten what your parents said when I brought you over. You are only a ‘pastime’ they gave me. If you didn’t do the things you just mentioned, do you think that there’s still any value in you staying in the Fang Household?”
“Older… Older Aunt!” Xia Furong’s face was full of disbelief. She never thought that her aunt, who had loved and doted on her, would say such hurtful words.
With a face of remorse, Lady Fang continued, “Perhaps, over the years, I have been so kind to you that you have forgotten your duty and identity. Did you always wanted to become the young miss of the Fang Family? Think about it. If I wanted to accept you as my daughter, I would have fulfilled your wish many years ago! Why would I wait until now?”
The bubble of hope within Xia Furong’s heart had been burst, and her heart was filled with despair. She rushed towards Xiaocao like a crazy woman, but got pushed away by Fang Zizhen and fell heavily on the ground. She cried in despair, “Why? Why!! How am I inferior to her? What exactly is so good about her…”
Lady Fang looked at her with pity and slowly said, “She may not be as beautiful as you, nor does she have your elegance and poise… but there’s one thing that you can never compare with her. Because she is purer and more genuine than you! Her heart is cleaner than yours!!”
Xia Furong crawled over, clung onto Lady Fang’s leg, and shouted, “Aunt, it’s all Zixiang’s idea. It has nothing to do with me ah, Aunt!!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
It's sad to be treated as a pastime by her family, including her parents, but that doesn't justify her actions.