Home Post 1714-chapter-15


This chapter is sponsored by: The Queen Bee

After leaving the bookstore, Old Madam Gu took Qing Shu to a shop that sold rouge, face powder, and cosmetics. 

Despite her age, Old Madam Gu paid great attention to her appearance. At over fifty years old, she looked more like she was in her forties. 

Old Madam Gu picked out several items and was ready to head home. If it weren’t for Qing Shu’s illness, they might have gone to a restaurant instead. While Aunt Xiang was a skilled cook, a change in taste from time to time was also enjoyable. 

The shop owner personally escorted them out. However, just as they stepped out of the shop’s gate, a thin, gaunt man rushed up to them. 

Qing Shu was startled. 

Old Madam Gu, seeing her granddaughter’s reaction, quickly hugged her and softly patted her back, saying, “Don’t be afraid, sweetheart. Grandma is here.” 

Qing Shu smiled and replied, “Grandma, I’m not scared.” Although she wasn’t afraid, Old Madam Gu’s comforting presence made her feel warm inside. 

The shop owner’s expression immediately soured upon seeing the newcomer. “What are you here for?” 

The man said, “Big Sis, I beg you to save me. Big Sis, you’re the only one who can help me now.” 

“Save you? How can I save you?” 

The man hurriedly explained, “If you lend me three hundred taels of silver, I can cure my illness.” 

Seeing that the shop owner was reluctant to engage, the man grabbed her sleeve and knelt down. “Big Sis, I don’t want to die. Please, Big Sis, help me!” 

Apart from his sister, no one else could lend him that much silver. 

The shop owner shook off the man’s hand and coldly said, “I won’t even give you three taels of silver, let alone three hundred.” 

The man wanted to plead further, but a burly woman from the shop pushed him to the ground. 

Realizing he couldn’t borrow any money, the man immediately became furious and cursed at the shop owner, accusing her of being heartless. He believed she would face retribution for her indifference. 

The shop owner didn’t even turn her head and went back inside her shop. The man was subsequently apprehended by local authorities. 

Qing Shu, still nestled in Old Madam Gu’s arms, curiously asked, “Grandma, are they really siblings?” 

Old Madam Gu initially didn’t want to delve into the matter but thought that Qing Shu was old enough to understand the world’s harsh realities. She felt that Qing Shu shouldn’t be as naive as Gu Xian had been; otherwise, her granddaughter might end up living in constant worry, just like Gu Xian had in her previous life. 

After some consideration, Old Madam Gu explained the shop owner’s situation to Qing Shu. 

In fact, the situation wasn’t very complicated. The shop owner, Xue Xiaofu, came from a family that favored male children over female ones. When she was six years old, her older brother, the man Qing Shu had just seen, fell seriously ill. To save him, her parents sold her. 

At the age of twenty-two, Xue Xiaofu was released from servitude thanks to the favor of her master’s family. Upon her release, she returned to her birth family, thinking she could finally reunite with her parents. However, her parents, influenced by her older brother and sister-in-law, wanted to marry her off to a wealthy man in his fifties who already had grandchildren. They were doing this solely for a large dowry. 

Upon hearing this, Xue Xiaofu fled during the night. Without any official registration, she couldn’t leave the county, so she ended up working in Old Madam Gu’s cosmetics shop. 

In the Ming Dynasty, women’s rights and social status had improved compared to earlier times. As long as a woman paid her taxes, she could establish her own household. Xue Xiaofu spent some money to establish her own household, and with that, her parents and siblings couldn’t sell her again without breaking the law. 

Qing Shu admired Xue Xiaofu for her resilience. If she had the chance to escape from her previous life’s predicament, she wouldn’t have ended up in such a miserable state. However, she could only think about it; she had many maids and servants by her side, so escaping was practically impossible. 

She also knew that even if she managed to escape, she might fall into the hands of human traffickers, which would be an even worse fate. 

“Grandma, what happened next?” Qing Shu asked. 

Old Madam Gu smiled and continued, “Xue Xiaofu married Zhao Butou, the constable of the county. Later on, when she found out that I was selling this shop, she bought it. This shop has been quite profitable, and she’s now living a very comfortable life. While her parents were alive, she gave them an annual allowance of ten taels of silver. After they passed away, she cut off contact with her family.” 

Qing Shu muttered, “Why did she still give them money?” She couldn’t understand why someone would give financial support to parents who had sold her once and were willing to do it again. 

Old Madam Gu gently touched Qing Shu’s head and said, “Silly child, they are her parents. If she didn’t support them, she would gain a bad reputation, which could affect her children’s future marriages and prospects. It’s just a small amount of silver to avoid bringing shame to her family. Even if her parents were unbearable, she couldn’t abandon them.” 

Qing Shu remained silent. 

Old Madam Gu continued, “Qing Shu, Grandma is telling you this to make you understand that the world can be a treacherous place. Even your closest relatives might turn against you for their own gain.” 

It seemed that there were many people who would sell their daughters for personal gain, not just Lin Chengyue. 

Seeing Qing Shu’s pensive expression, Old Madam Gu added, “As long as you remain cautious, no one can take advantage of you.” 

Gu Xian was not at all on guard against others. Now that she can still be protected while she’s still alive, she don’t know what will happen to her when she dies. 

Qing Shu said, “Grandma, don’t worry, I will learn my skills well.” Having a defensive mindset is not enough; you also need the ability to resist. 

Old Madam Gu was delighted that her granddaughter was so intelligent. She hadn’t expected Qing Shu to grasp the concept so quickly. “My clever girl.” 

The grandmother and granddaughter returned home happily. 

Upon their arrival, the gatekeeper informed them that Second Madam, Madam Mao, had come and had been waiting for nearly half an hour. 

Old Madam Gu nodded slightly. 

When Madam Mao saw Old Madam Gu, she immediately stood up and greeted her, “Sister-in-law.” 

Qing Shu heard this and quickly stepped forward to greet Madam Mao. This second grandmother appeared much older than her own grandmother. 

Madam Mao nodded slightly. 

Old Madam Gu sat down with Qing Shu on a carved wooden stool and asked, “Is there something you want?” They had never been close, and their conversations were usually brief. Despite being sisters-in-law, they rarely interacted outside of special occasions. 

Madam Mao’s face stiffened; she had a request to make, but she found it difficult to say directly. 

Old Madam Gu despises this most about Madam Mao. It’s obvious that she wants to ask for something, but she still puts on airs, which is annoying to watch. 

Madam Mao said, “Sister-in-law, I heard that Qing Shu has begun to read and write. I have a copybook here that is suitable for her.” After speaking, she took out the copybook. 

Madam Gu has been Mao’s sister-in-law for more than 20 years, how can she not know her temperament, she has to turn a few corners in everything she does, and she won’t say it directly. 

Qing Shu didn’t take the copybook, but looked at Old Madam Gu. 

The Old Madam Gu smiled and said: “Since it was given by your second grandmother, you can accept it!” 

Qing Shu then accepted the copybook and thanked her. 

Madam Mao took a look at Qing Shu and the maids in the room, and looked embarrassed. 

Old lady Gu acted as if she didn’t see it. 

Madam Mao bit the bullet and said, “Sister-in-law, can you ask them to retreat?” With so many people present, she really couldn’t open her mouth. 

Madam Gu, who knew her sister-in-law well, couldn’t help but feel impatient. She disliked Madam Mao’s habit of beating around the bush. “If you have something to say, say it. If not, I need to have my dinner.” 

For the sake of her son’s future, she had to swallow her pride and speak up, even though it was embarrassing for her. “Master Lin, the teacher at the White Egret Academy, is both highly educated and morally upright. If Jie’er1 could become his student, his future success in the imperial exams would be assured.” 

Old Madam Gu glanced at Madam Mao but remained silent.  

Gu Hejie’s literary talent was average; otherwise, he wouldn’t still be just a scholar at the age of twenty. Unfortunately, Mao believed that Gu Hejie had the potential for scholarly pursuits, but his luck was not in his favor as he hadn’t encountered a renowned teacher, which caused delays in his studies. 

  1. the additional ‘er is a form of endearment.