Miss Jun couldn't contain her laugh as she watched the departing figure of Old Lady Fang.
"It's rather pitiful," she said.
No son, but a pack of granddaughters. Her daughter-in-law was filial, her household was harmonious, she possessed bountiful wealth, and she was very true to her word. But if Old Lady Fang were to hear a fatherless, motherless, maternal granddaughter abandoned by everyone lament her as pitiful, she probably wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Liu'er nodded with acknowledgement.
"Once I thought that I was the most pitiful person under Heaven, but after thinking about it, there are many people on this earth much more pitiful than me," she continued, returning to the room with Liu'er. "Since everyone suffers, this is not suffering at all."
Liu'er only half-understood.
She seriously nodded anyway. "Young Miss speaks true."
Anyways, it was true that what Young Miss says was correct.
Miss Jun patted her head.
"Was the shadow puppet fun?" she asked. "Were you able to play with it?"
Liu'er nodded her head enthusiastically.
"It's very very fun. I'll put on a performance for you, Young Miss," she said. Her tone then grew sad. "But I have never seen a shadow play before, so I don't know how to perform."
"There will be a carnival at the Lantern Festival. It will definitely have one, so it should be fine if you go see it," said Miss Jun.
"Can I, can I?" Liu'er asked excitedly.
"Of course you may," Miss Jun said.
There were many things that were too hard for her to do right now, but letting this little servant girl go see a shadow play was not one of them.
Just as Miss Jun was deciding to go to the Lantern Festival, Old Lady Fang was listening to someone else's request.
"You want to go see the lanterns?" she asked in surprise of the young man in the wheelchair before her.
Fang Chengyu nodded.
"I remembered that I saw them once when I was young." His expression was gentle, and he was smiling. "This year, I feel that my body is doing not bad, so I want to see it again."
Probably this would be the only time he could.
Fang Chengyu very rarely asked for anything.
He was five years old when he got sick. He had to eat his medicine and be on a strict diet. For a child who had a taste of the delicious flavors of the world, how could he bear the lure of good food?
But the people of the family did not dare let him eat. They hid things away, blocked, and cajoled him. Fang Chengyu had been driven crazy by his appetite. When he saw a cake that a servant boy was eating that fell on the ground, he actually crawled out of bed and picked it up and ate it. When Lady Fang saw it, she had passed out from crying. She was in bed for three days.
From then on, Fang Chengyu did not make a fuss about things. He ate what Old Lady Fang and Lady Fang let him eat and did what they would allow him to do.
For close to nine years, he had never gone out, let alone leaving to see the lanterns. He was completely cutoff from the rest of the world.
That was because he did not want his family to worry about him. So he did not make any requests, only wanting for his family to be at ease.
But he was still human. How could a human not have anything he likes, not have any desires?
The pressure from his lifespan had stopped him for many years. It was probably because he was in his final moments that he wanted to act recklessly.
Old Lady Fang could only feel a stinging in her eyes.
"All right," she said immediately, thinking but not thinking. "Every year, our Fang Family takes charge of the lanterns on a street. This time, we will do an extra one."
Her voice dropped off here. Fang Jinxiu immediately clapped.
"Great!" She somewhat exaggerated her enthusiasm, but then frowned. "Did we not have to make more lanterns this year?"
Fang Yunxiu seemed frightened that Fang Chengyu didn't know.
"Every Lantern Festival, the people in our family personally make the lanterns," she explained with a smile.
In the beginning, it was very fun, but at the end they would have to pray for blessings, their wishes.
Of course, they could not let Fang Chengyu do these things.
Fang Chengyu nodded and laughed.
"I know. This time, I will try my hand at one," he said.
"Then this time, we will make many lanterns. This is just too good!" Fang Yuxiu said suddenly.
There were only ten days to the Lantern Festival. The other lanterns had already been custom-made. Even if they were to decorate another street, it wasn't just that they had to spend money. That wasn't important. The difficult part was that everybody had to work together and make lanterns. Although the materials were all ready, they would have to spend time.
Everybody looked at her without understanding.
"We don't have to do our assignments. We can use making lanterns as an excuse," said Fang Yuxiu.
Everyone in the room laughed.
Old Lady Fang was smiling, but there was some bitterness in her heart.
Her granddaughters had no time to play. Every day they were stretched thin, having to support the heavy burden of the family at any time or place.
"You wish," she said, deliberately looking displeased. "This will not interfere with your work."
When she said this, she looked at the servants and waved a hand at them.
"The people of the house are making lanterns. This year, the Fang Family will take care of the Lantern Festival. Whoever makes the best lantern will win the Lantern Festival. We shall award one thousand taels of silver."
When she said this, all of the servants in the room were sent into a frenzy.
That was one thousand taels.
In the past, the best lanterns in the festival would naturally be chosen, but that was just an activity. This time, the Fang Family was offering a thousand taels of silver. Yangcheng had never known such activity before.
When Lady Fang heard of this, she rushed over.
"Mother, this, this is no good," she said.
Lady Fang had never contradicted Old Lady Fang in front of this many people before. The room fell silent, the servants hurrying to drag away the younger ones.
"Chengyu is to be married, after all. There are many people at the Lantern Festival. It would not be good to go out." Lady Fang's face was full of anxiety.
"Mother, we can assign more servants to stand on the road," said Fang Jinxiu anxiously.
Assign more servants?
They didn't even know who their enemy was, or even how to guard against him. Guarding against an unknown, how could it be of any use?
Lady Fang gave her a look, but did not say anything. Instead, she looked at Old Lady Fang with imploring eyes.
Old Lady Fang was naturally thinking of the same thing. Her expression darkened.
Fang Chengyu saw this and laughed.
"I was just saying this randomly. Every year, the residence is decorated with lanterns. They're the same as outside," he said.
Fang Jinxiu stared worriedly. Fang Yunxiu and Fang Yuxiu looked at Old Lady Fang with poorly disguised pleading.
Old Lady Fang's expression was complicated.
"Go ask Miss Jun," she said suddenly.
Fang Jinxiu and everyone else were shocked.
What did this mean?
It couldn't be that Old Lady Fang decided that Miss Jun would permit or not permit it?
Was she joking?
But obviously, she wasn't joking. It also wasn't them mishearing because of Lady Fang's words right after.
"Okay, I will go and ask her," she said. The area between her eyebrows had smoothed. Not waiting for anyone else to say anything, she hurried away.
Fang Jinxiu and her sisters' mouths were hanging open in shock.
In comparison to his older sisters' shock, Fang Chengyu wore a calm expression. Only a trace of scorn flashed in his eyes before he lowered his gaze.
As Lady Fang related what Old Lady Fang had decided to Miss Jun, Miss Jun's expression was very calm. She was neither impatient nor joyfully satisfied.
"Of course you may," she said, after thinking it over seriously.
"But if there is someone who will take advantage of the opportunity to harm Chengyu…" Lady Fang said with worry.
Even if you can detoxify his poison, if he dies, it is all for naught.
Miss Jun smiled.
"Aunt does not need to worry. Right now, Chengyu is a dead man to those people. They will not care," she said. "For them, no matter what you do, they know he will not have many days after fall. It's called the more joy, the more obvious the panic."
Were these words supposed to console people? But they really were ugly words to hear.
Lady Fang frowned slightly.