“Sis.” Feng Zi Rui’s small hands grabbed on to her and lightly shook, “What happened?”
Feng Yu Heng turned around, put her hand on Zi Rui’s head and pet it: “It’s nothing. Let’s go.” Then asked granny Sun, “How much further to Willow courtyard?”
Granny Sun pointed to a small road ahead and replied: “It is through this moon gate 1, along a walkway, past a small pond, through a small garden, then another 300 steps behind the garden.”
Feng Yu Heng couldn’t help but laugh. The Feng family must really despise them. Not to mention their new residence being so far, the servant that was to lead them did not appear. It was a good thing granny Sun knew the way. Otherwise, they would inevitably need to lower their heads and ask.
The reasoning behind the name Willow courtyard is not because there was a weeping willow. According to Yao shi, “Many years ago, this courtyard did have one. The manor’s young master Feng Zi Hao, at the age of 13, had fallen in love with a girl named Liu’er. At the time, Feng Zi Hao was still just the son of a concubine, while Liu’er could be considered a member of a
branch family at best. They had no right to open a courtyard in the manor. However, Feng Zi Hao truly doted on Liu’er and begged Chen shi to ask your father. In the end, your father agreed and allowed Chen shi to spend her own money on the construction of a courtyard. He granted her a stable in a far corner of the manor grounds. Unfortunately, Liu’er’s life was fated to be short. Before she could move in to the courtyard, she drowned.”
“Speaking of that matter, the way in which Liu’er died was odd.” Granny Sun recalled the happenings of that time. “I remember that year, the young master told Liu’er that he was giving her a courtyard to live in. Liu’er was ecstatic. Every day, she would go help at the courtyard and would help for the full day if it was busy. The young master and eldest young miss are blood relatives and naturally very close. One day, the young master had to attend a banquet and would return late, so the eldest young miss would bring Liu’er dinner. After Liu’er finished eating, she continued to help for a while. When she was returning that night, it was already late. When she passed by the small pond, she missed her step and drowned.”
Feng Zi Rui was frightened by
by the story, his tiny fists clenched tightly in Feng Yu Heng’s hands.
“Afraid?” She asked Feng Zi Rui.
The child raised his face to look at her. His eyes clearly showed fear, but he shook his head and replied, “Not afraid.”
“Very good.” She patted him on the back of his hand. “Zi Rui, remember well that you are a child of the Feng manor. Your development and growth is destined to be a harder one than that of other children. Older sister can’t always give you prosperity. I also cannot stick to by your side at all times in any place to protect you; however, do not be afraid. Just because it is trying does not mean it is necessarily a bad thing. If you want to survive in such a ruthless place, you must be able to handle the hardships.”
She did not comfort him. Instead, she took a direct approach and told Feng Zi Rui that his future path would not be easy.
For a six year old, while
old, while he would not understand everything she said, she had to at least provide him some defense for his heart and some crisis awareness. This way he would not be caught unprepared when an enemy appeared.
Feng Zi Rui had listened to his older sister since he was small. Since Feng Yu Heng had said it, he would listen attentively. He would earnestly remember every word.
Yao shi looked at the two children. Her own state of mind was beginning to change as well. Her Heng seemed to have become a different person after spending a night lost in the mountains. She had become more indifferent compared to before. She was also much more incisive, though not to the point of being bitter or sarcastic. However, she did not appear willing to continue to endure.
She could not help but feel a little worried, but seeing the two firmly holding hands with heads held high, she also began to yearn for a fulfilling life. The hard days of living in Xi Ping village were over. They had eaten dirt and endured mice sleeping in their beds. What did they have to fear?
Willow courtyard was a very small place. There was only a small yard for receiving people, three proper rooms, four wing-rooms, two offices and a very small kitchen. The few trees The few trees that were in the yard had withered away, as there had been nobody residing there for a long time. Originally, there was a table and chair placed in the middle of the yard, but years of wind and rain had caused them to deteriorate to the past the point of repair.
The eaves were covered in ash. The window screens were also in need of repairs. However, the roof remained structurally sound. It was apparent that when Feng Zi Hao repaired this courtyard for Liu’er, he had done so earnestly.
Feng Yu Heng recalled the things said by granny Sun. In regards to the way Liu’er had died, she felt is was not something as simple as an accident; however, many years had passed, and she was just the child of a branch family. They did not investigate further.
A few servants stood in the yard. It seemed they arrived first and were waiting. One was a granny and two were maidservants, for a total of three.
Seeing Yao shi return, the granny led and advanced. Her expressionless face quickly displayed a professional smile and bowed. “Greeting concubine Yao. Does the concubine remember this servant?”
Yao shi glanced at her and quietly replied: “Granny Li.”
1: Basically a hole in the wall. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_gate