Chapter 61 An Eye for an Eye!
About a three-or-four-day walk away from Jing City, there was a little hill, behind which stood a mountain of medium height and in front of which flew a river less than ten Chinese feet. This little hill could be counted as a good place of blessing because of the mountain behind it and the river before it, though neither the mountain was high nor the river was deep.
“What a good place!” Qiu Yelan said with a half-smile holding the curtain in the carriage which had just arrived at the foot of the hill at sunset. Her eyes were fixed on a frightened hare, especially on its big beautiful back legs, for a long while and she finally decided to switch her eyes to the top of the hill.
By the light of the sunset, she could see there were a bunch of people wearing plain clothes.
“Send someone over and ask them whether they belong to Prince’s Mansion of Xihe,” Qiu Yelan stared at them for a moment and smiled significantly. “Let the leading person come here and talk!”
The hill was not high, but it took some time to go up and come down.
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After a while, it became dark. The servants lit the torches and only a patch of ground was lit up—after all, it was a wild and open land and that was all seven or eight torches could do.
Beyond the firelight, it was endless darkness. Su He was scared of the dark and she stood very close to Qiu Yelan, daring not to leave.
Qiu Yelan was amused by her and was about to comfort her when a slight cough came from not far away and someone said with a strange tone, “Cousin Yelan, why are you here?”
The servants heard it and stepped aside for Qiu Hongzhi to come over.
This son of the concubine was over 20 now. He was short but good looking. Wearing a dark blue robe, he kept rolling a jade thumb ring with his right hand, while his left hand stayed behind his back. With a distant and vigilant expression, he asked, “Shouldn’t you be looking after General Ruan in his Mansion? Why did you leave him and come here?”
Qiu Yelan didn’t bother to answer him, “Was Lu buried?”
The impolite question made Qiu Hongzhi frowned and an angry expression appeared on his face!
But Qiu Yelan quickly continued, “What are you mad at? Did you expect me to call her grandmother? Did she deserve it?”
“You must be joking, Cousin Yelan,” Qiu Hongzhi said sullenly. He hated Qiu Yelan from the bottom of his heart. If not including being preferred by Madame Lu, the fact that he lost Madame Lu as a big support in contending for the title was enough for him to resent her so much.
However, he could do nothing to this cousin of him. Now he said with a disgust hard to hide, “Why do you ask?”
“Why?” Qiu Yelan was more impatient than him. She shouted with an angry face. “You tell me, why do you want to bury Lu here?”
“She couldn’t be buried in our family cemetery but she would miss grandfather and wished to look at his tomb. You are a Commandery Princess. Won’t you fulfill this little wish of her?” Qiu Hongzhi felt humiliated by her constant dominant words, but he was afraid that if he left now, Qiu Yelan would take it against him, so he had to repress his rage and answer.
Still, Qiu Yelan sneered, “Why should I fulfill her wish? Who was she?”
She didn’t wait for Qiu Hongzhi’s answer but said, “She was just an outsider! Grandmother had kicked her off, so she had no relation with our family! I had allowed you to settle her affairs because she was the mother of my uncle. But you buried her at such a place where she could see our family cemetery! What do you mean? Do you think that grandmother was wrong and Lu was treated unfairly?”
Qiu Hongzhi’s expression changed a little. He said in a deep voice, “I had consulted your granduncle from the Lian Family before I came here....”
“Then you didn’t make it clear with granduncle!” Qiu Yelan said coldly. “Or else, granduncle wouldn’t have agreed with you! You probably have told him about your difficulty so that he could allow you to bury Lu. Don’t try to fool me because I’m young! I tell you, you mustn’t bury her here. If you dare, I will go to the palace and sue you for your disobedience of filial duty on behalf of my grandmother! She wanted to see our family cemetery? She missed my grandfather? How shameless! Who was she? She didn’t deserve to!”
Qiu Hongzhi’s face was pale with anger. He took one step forward toward the carriage and said, “You...”
Su He hurried to interpose herself between Qiu Yelan and Qiu Hongzhi and watched him warily.
“Move away!” Qiu Yelan pushed her back to her seat and sneered, “What? I pointed out your fault and you want to hit me? I’ve never seen an ungrateful man like you! I’m right here. Don’t you dare to beat me!”
“Young master, please calm down!” Qiu Hongzhi’s servant quickly stopped him. If Qiu Hongzhi did hit Qiu Yelan, in view of her brutal means, he would never have a good future!
Qiu Hongzhi also knew it. Although he hated her so much that he wanted to strangle her, he forced himself to resist the impulse, clenching and relaxing his fists for many times. He asked almost through gritted teeth, “What do you want?”
“Bury her far away, at a random place! She was just an abandoned concubine whose name was no longer on our genealogy. How dare she try to relate to our family?” Qiu Yelan said formidably. “When she was alive, she lived as Madame shamelessly for over a decade and received similar treatment as that of old Princess. Since she is dead now, things should be made clear! Even a lifelong prostitute should be more moral than her!”
“You!” Qiu Hongzhi had decided to tolerate her, but he was enraged by her mean words. He pulled up his sleeve and was about to rush over, “I will make you...”
Qiu Yelan was also angry. She jumped off the carriage and said with her finger pointed at him, “Make me what? Say it clearly!”
“Young master, please calm down! Please calm down!” the servants were terrified and tried hard to pull Qiu Hongzhi aside. They all persuaded him regardless of whether it would be heard by Qiu Yelan, “Prince is ill and Princess doesn’t feel good. She also said that Master Qiu Yinzhi was too young and let you settle these things. What do you think she meant? Did you forget Master Lian’s words? Also, Commandery Princess should be in General’s Mansion and looking after General Ruan now. Why did she suddenly come here?”
These words were like a bucket of cold water pouring down on Qiu Hongzhi’s head. The servant feared that these words were still not enough, so he mentioned the former incident, “Last time, you were pushed into the lake and the suspect turned out to be Mistress Liu. How was that possible? She is in good graces and has no child, so why should she harm you?”
Qiu Hongzhi took a deep breath and pushed away the servant’s hands. He walked to Qiu Yelan and said in a deep voice, “Did Princess send you here?”
Qiu Yelan withdrew her unkindness and smiled as if she had never said any mean words, “No wonder Lu and my uncle like you. You are so clever!”
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“Did Princess treat you well so that you help her?” Qiu Hongzhi sneered. “Do you think you can get something good if Qiu Yinzhi gets the title? By her morality...”
“Shut up!” Qiu Yelan lifted her hand to stop him. “Aunt told me about this place and the time and I know what’s her plan! Even if she didn’t tell me, I would ask for it.”
She squinted and said, “Do you really think that I’m here to make you angry?”
Qiu Hongzhi slightly frowned and felt something wrong. He asked coldly, “Where are you going?”
“I want to visit the graves of my grandparents and my parents,” Qiu Yelan gazed at him with a half-smile. “But I missed the daylight! I’m a girl who’s afraid of walking in the dark.... But luckily I met you! Go with me. In this way, you won’t worry about me and I won’t be scared, isn’t it?”
Qiu Hongzhi became angry, “What do you mean?”
“It means I don’t want you to bury Lu!” Qiu Yelan said frankly. “When my mother died, I didn’t have the chance to settle her affairs! She was the former Princess! Why an abandoned concubine like Lu could have her grandson to settle her affairs? Do you think I’m a kind person who won’t take revenge?”
In the firelight, her smile was sweet and her appearance was beautiful, but her eyes were chilling, “Don’t hesitate! Follow me! Or when I return to Jing City, I will tell people you don’t want to visit your official grandparents’ graves because of an abandoned concubine! If it’s known by all, think how ‘happy’ your official mother will be!”
Qiu Hongzhi’s face was twisted for a long while. Persuaded by his confidential servant’s whispering, he finally made his decision. Gritting his teeth, he said, “Fine!”
“Oh, by the way,” Qiu Yelan turned around with content and suddenly stopped, saying indifferently, “My mother’s affairs were settled by Cousin Ruan’s 5,000 silver taels. So if you want to bury Lu, you should give me 6,000 silver taels! Or she should never be buried!”
Qiu Hongzhi was riled up, “It was Princess who took the money!”
“Haven’t you been in charge of the Mansion these days? When we come back, give me the money immediately!” Qiu Yelan said lightly. “If not, believe me, I’m so good at getting my money back.... What’s more, at that time, I will ask for far more than 6,000 silver taels!”
Qiu Hongzhi looked at the curtain she flicked down speechlessly with his face pale with anger!
The next day, at noon, the spring daylight covered the whole ground.
“Lu is dead. She was not only killed by her own son, but was deceived by her son. I guess before she died, she must have been so upset. Her affairs were also settled in a poor way.... Ha ha!”
Before the high gravestone, Qiu Yelan wore plain clothes and was no longer mean or arrogant. She had sent all her servants far away. She stirred the joss paper in the pan and talked quietly to Princess Ruan in the tomb, “She poisoned you and your father, and forced you to kill yourself so that your daughter could live.... Actually, even though you killed yourself, your real daughter has gone.... Even I don’t know how she died.”
“The poison Youmianxiang involves too many people. Lu refused to tell where she got it. I tested Qiu Mengmin but it seemed that he also didn’t know about it.... Or else, why didn’t he think your death was significant? I’m not able to find out the real criminal behind all the things. I can only let Lu die and vent your anger!”
“Of course, it’s not only Lu, Qiu Mengmin, Qiu Yuqing, Princess Yang who have bullied you two.... Like Cousin Ruan said, none of the Prince’s Mansion of Xihe’s people is good!” Qiu Yelan murmured. “Please rest assured. I will remember them all and let no one get away.... After all, who knows whether some of them have Youmianxiang?”
“I don’t even know how that poison smells or what it looks like.... It’s too tiring to be watchful to those people. They’d better all die so that I won’t be afraid,” the firelight reflected on her face made her fair and tender cheek pink and attractive. “Oh, I almost forgot there is another piece of good news: the Ruan Family has an heir now and will live on. Although now the Ruan Family is in decline, this heir seems promising!”
“Though his origin seems questionable...”
“But he’s good to me and it’s all because of you. After all, I have angered him several times and I’m not a good cousin in his mind. If he didn’t think of you as his aunt, he would have left me alone.”
“Nevertheless, if only he can revive the Ruan Family, it may be okay that he leaves me alone and I live independently....”
“Anyway, I will take justice back to all the grief and disappointment you felt....”
“I do this for my own parents who took their lives to make me alive.... It’s a pity that I can’t pay my filial piety to them now. So please take my offer instead of them....”
She reached out her hand and stroking the characters on the gravestone. Then she leaned her head on it and the cold feeling made her dazed, “Dad, mom, how are you now?”
The memories of both her past life and this life came surging.
But Qiu Yelan had learned to control her emotion in the last phase. She let her mood flow out for a moment and then forced herself up. She bowed to the gravestone, “Time’s up and I should leave. I hope in the near future I can tell you more good news!”
At the edge of her vision, she saw Su He and others were coming towards her. Qiu Yelan took out a handkerchief from her sleeve and wiped her tears on the cheek, saying quietly, “Yes, whatever situation I’m in, I should keep alive and well! I have made it, right?”
Her parents in her last life had both died when they protected her from crowds of zombies. Their last words were the same, “Stay alive! Live well!”
“I have survived. Now I should live well... and make sure those in my way live bitterly!” Qiu Yelan threw the handkerchief in the pan and ordered calmly, “Let’s go!”
The sky was high and the cloud was thin.
In this season where the spring sun and wind were both soft, even a cemetery covered with pines and cypress was warm and tender. Such tenderness was like a mother’s gentleness and love, full of the Creator’s blessing to all the creatures.
The brighter and brighter vision before her was like a lively road of the future. The more she moved forward, the brighter and more prosperous the future would be.
In the vast vigor of the spring, flowers were blooming boundlessly.
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