When Fifth Aunt saw that Uncle Wang was the only one who came, her temper flared, and she scolded him directly, “What is going on with your Yu family? The child almost froze to death outside, and yet you all were unhurried! Where are his parents? How could they only send you, a servant, to come?”
Uncle Wang apologized continuously and explained, “My Master is busy with work while the Madam’s body is unwell, so…”
Fifth Aunt sneered, “You speak as if no one in our family was an official in the court. To hell with being busy! Since Yu Ming does not care for this child, he will stay at our house in the future. I have never seen such parents who do not even feel hasty despite their child almost freezing to death outside. Previously, he was abducted by traffickers, and now he almost froze to death in the streets. If it were not for his good fortune, he would have died a few times over. For him to stay in that ruthless family is torture, and who knows when he would die. Since Yu Ming does not recognize this child, he will be part of our Lu family in the future!”
Looking very embarrassed, Uncle Wang rubbed his hands together and faltered in his speech, not knowing what to say. Just now, when someone notified their household, the Master only said that since Yu ZiAn ran out, he should not come back again while the Madam sulked at one corner without saying anything. Not to mention the concubine that presided over the inner courtyard who wished for Yu ZiAn to disappear forever. In the end, with no choice, he could only come and pick up Yu ZiAn personally. However, when he went to find a carriage, things were made difficult for him, and it was said that without the concubine’s order, he, a servant, had no authority to use one. Despite his attempts, he was also unable to take a horse out of the stable or even a donkey cart. So, as he could only pull a cart here himself, he was inevitably late.
When Fifth Aunt saw Uncle Wang’s reaction, her heart sank. “It is not Yu Ming who sent you here?”
Uncle Wang averted his eyes in response. Understanding the situation, Fifth Aunt almost lost her breath in anger, and Lu shiyiniang hurriedly went up to appease her, “Mother, you should calm down first and speak after drinking some water.”
Fifth Aunt regained her composure and said, “Since it is like this, you go back and tell Yu Ming that if he really does not recognize this son, the Lu family will accept him. By that time, he should not regret it.”
Uncle Wang hurriedly refuted, “How can this be done? There is no such thing as children who do not return to their own home.”
Fifth Aunt roared, “It has to depend on whether that family recognizes the child!” After saying that, she felt that it was useless to lose her temper at Uncle Wang and added slowly, “You should return first. ZiAn has been frostbitten, and if he went home like that, there would be no one to take care of him. By then, it will be regrettable if something worse happened. I will send someone over to speak to your Master and would not make things difficult for you.”
At this time, Yu ZiAn, with a pale face, was carried over by Lu XiaoBao. Although he was given emergency treatment and took some medicine, his weak body had become more seriously damaged. The doctor had also said that if he was not well cared for, he would not live past 15 years old.
“Uncle Wang, thank you for coming to pick me up, but I do not want to go back. They all do not want me anymore.” Hearing Yu ZiAn speak with a weak voice, Uncle Wang wiped his tears away while everyone else’s eyes reddened.
“Young Master, Master-Master is just…”
Yu ZiAn gave a shallow smile and had an expression that said that he knew that truth, so Uncle Wang should not lie to him. Shaking his head, he continued, “Uncle Wang, I want to stay here. I do not want to go back.”
Zhuang Zhong added, “Uncle Wang, although this is not the best option, it is better than having ZiAn return at this time, as his body is in a bad state. Without good medicine and careful care, he will not last for more than several days. We can speak further when your Master finds a better way. No matter what happens between your masters, the child is innocent.”
Uncle Wang sighed deeply. Despite being shown respect by the Old Master, he was only a servant and had no say in the household since some time ago. Besides, regarding his Master’s affairs, how could this servant get involved in it? It was only because he watched Yu ZiAn grow up and treated him like a grandson that he would be this concerned.
Here, Uncle Wang bowed deeply. “I will have to trouble you then. This old servant will also be thanking you all on behalf of my Master first.”
Saying that, Uncle Wang took out a small money bag from his pocket with trembling hands and handed it to Fifth Aunt. “There is not much money on this servant but these…”
Seeing that, Fifth Aunt directly pushed it back to him. “Even if I want money, I will not accept it from you.”
Uncle Wang shook his head. “This is a token of my regard, not from the Yu family. I have watched this child grow up, and ah, he has had a tough life.”
Hearing that, Fifth Aunt quickly accepted. “You are a kind and righteous one. You can rest assured that we will take good care of ZiAn.”
It was only here that Uncle Wang left in assurance, leaving Yu ZiAn behind with tears.
Seeing that, Lu XiaoBao was at a loss and comforted him in a flurry, “ZiAn, don’t cry. In the future, you are part of the Lu family. I will split my parents with you!”
As the Lu family expressed their stance on this, it made Yu ZiAn cry and laugh at the same time.
On the second day, Yu ZiAn’s mother, Xue-shi, arrived at the door.
Delicate, petite, and pretty, Xue-shi was frowning with a pale face, giving off the feeling of having a delicate constitution that was unable to stand a gust of wind.
As Yu ZiAn looked at Xue-shi nervously, she could not help but rush forward to hug him, and they cried together.
“It is Mother’s fault. I was wrong, as I should not have said such words to you.”
“Mother, ZiAn will be obedient, so do not abandon me.”
After letting them cry for a while, Fifth Aunt went up and advised, “Both of you have weak bodies, so do not cry too much. Although it was a great calamity, ZiAn is still alive, and you all should look forward to the future instead.”
Xue-shi sobbed, “Thank you for your care, or I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.”
Fifth Aunt sighed, “If you want to thank someone, you should thank the heavens. If my nephew had not passed by and he was a capable man who could save your son, it would have been too late. Just do not do this again in the future. The fight between adults does not have anything to do with the child, and it is not right to vent your anger on him.”
Xue-shi wiped away her tears, and her eyes let out an unswerving feeling of determination. “It was a lapse and will never happen again. It is just that I have to trouble Madam to help take care of ZiAn for a few days until I can find a place and take ZiAn away.”
Hearing that, Fifth Aunt found it abnormal and asked, “What do you mean?”
Xue-shi smiled bitterly. “Since he does not believe me, why should I neglect my child for him? I have been tired all these years, and those deep feelings I had for him have diminished. I want to give ZiAn a good life in the future, as he has suffered too much. As a mother, I can no longer neglect him.”
Although her words were not specific, one could guess that she wanted a divorce or even let Yu Ming expel her. “He is willing to let you take ZiAn and leave?”
Xue-shi laughed and said forlornly, “Although I am not close with Madam, you give off the feeling of being a close friend. I have been holding myself back all these years. If you do not mind, will you be willing to listen to my nonsense?”
Fifth Aunt waved a hand and ordered the others to leave. “There are no outsiders here, so speak if you have any difficulties. Even if I cannot help you solve it, you will still feel better after letting it out.”
Xue-shi was very grateful. Ever since she married into the Yu household, she had lost her freedom. Besides, due to what happened, her contact with the outside world had become even scarce, and she has stayed in the cold courtyard alone with no one to speak with. Now, she just wanted to let go of everything and desired to have someone to pour out her words to.
“Actually, with my current state, I am not afraid of being a laughing stock to others anymore. My husband has always believed that ZiAn was not his biological son but someone born out of infidelity.” Here, Xue-shi released another laugh which made Fifth Aunt feel unbearably sad.
“He did not even think it through properly whether I would even have a chance to do such acts. After all, I am surrounded by his mother’s people closely. Just by releasing a fart in the room, they would no doubt be able to smell the stench.”
Because Xue-shi looked gentle and appeared like a young lady from a big family, it was unexpected that she would sprout such vulgar words, making Fifth Aunt burst into chuckles. Suddenly feeling embarrassed, Fifth Aunt then immediately explained, “Sister, I did not expect that you would say such words.”
Xue-shi also laughed. “My family is in straitened circumstances. In the past, I even went out just to make a living, so how can I be like those young ladies who are never exposed to the real world? Nonetheless, I have not spoken such words in a long time. It is really satisfying!”
Yu Ming and his wife Xue-shi were childhood sweethearts. However, Xue-shi’s family landed in dire straits, and by the time they reached marriageable age, their families’ situation had already become poles apart. Yu Ming was also a fine-looking man who achieved jinshi at the age of 18, indicating a bright future. Although the two families were close friends in the past, they did not arrange a proper engagement and had only mentioned the marriage in passing.
For the Yu family, Yu Ming was the only son. Old Madam Yu was then reluctant to let her outstanding son marry someone from an impoverished family, and she wanted to find a highly cultured and proper lady from an eminent family for him. However, Yu Ming was fixated on Xue-shi and would only marry her. At that time, due to this matter, he fought with his family for a long time and even said that he would leave the house to become a monk. Like this, Old Madam Yu had no choice but to agree. However, in her eyes, Xue-shi was an eyesore and sought to make things difficult for her.
Even then, Yu Ming and Xue-shi have always loved each other deeply. So for him, Xue-shi endured her mother-in-law, and despite the many obstacles, everything still more or less settled down.
However, Xue-shi did not manage to conceive for three years which made Old Madam Yu increasingly anxious, and she kept shoving other women to Yu Ming. He refused all of them, but Xue-shi could only feel greater pressure. It was only later that Old Madam Yu became more clever and arranged for one of her servant girls to be stationed at Yu Ming’s room, saying that she was only there to serve him. Like this, she had to ensure the well-being of a woman, who was not only coveting her husband but was also sent by Old Madam Yu. Her very presence was just like a needle pricking into Xue-shi.
In the end, with the accumulation of such affairs, it was inevitable that the pair of husband and wife would become distant. However, despite their quarrels at the start, neither of their feelings were severely hurt then. After that, Yu Ming was sent on a diplomatic visit to a neighboring country for half a year, and it was not long after his return that Xue-shi became pregnant. Originally, it was supposed to be a happy event, but Old Madam Yu could not stand the fact that Yu Ming was always putting Xue-shi first in everything. His refusal to take in a concubine when Xue-shi could not serve him also resulted in Old Madam Yu making things increasingly difficult for Xue-shi. Eventually, this caused the usually healthy Xue-shi to have a premature birth during her seventh month of pregnancy and gave birth to Yu ZiAn.
Although Yu ZiAn was born with a weak physique, his weight was not much different from that of a full-term child. Old Madam Yu then kept on saying that it was not normal, as Yu ZiAn could not have grown so big in just seven months. She even added that when Yu Ming was sent out, Xue-shi was always restless and often went outside. Meanwhile, Old Madam Yu, as her mother-in-law, was unable to control her. After hearing such words so often, Yu Ming began harboring doubts in his heart. Previously, for more than three years, she was unable to conceive. So, how could she immediately get pregnant after his return from a six months trip? This, coupled with the fact that it was a really premature birth, caused Yu Ming to feel that the more he looked, the more Yu ZiAn did not resemble him.
After listening to Old Madam Yu’s words, Yu Ming then secretly conducted a blood test1 “滴血认亲” is a traditional paternity blood test conducted in ancient China to identify relatives/kinship. By dripping one drop of blood from the father, and one from the son in a bowl of water, one could then check if they conglomerated in the center. Essentially, if the blood droplets fused together, the child is biological. However, do note that such a paternity test is highly inaccurate even though it does have some scientific basis. It was raised by others that if the blood types are compatible, the two drops will mix easily no matter whether or not they have blood relations. which showed the unimaginable result of their blood not conglomerating together!
At that time, Yu Ming angrily looked for Xue-shi and rebuked her for daring to commit adultery behind his back and giving birth to an illegitimate son. Meanwhile, Xue-shi’s past experiences had made her temperament firmer, and she did not show restraint like before. Upon hearing such insulting words, she felt furious and heartbroken. As all the grievances she experienced gushed out, she ended up quarreling with Yu Ming. At that time, Yu Ming felt that Xue-shi’s infidelity stemmed from her dissatisfaction with his family and their quarrel got even more intense.
In a fit of anger, Yu Ming went out to drink after that. Returning drunk, he mistook the identity of the girl servant Old Madam Yu sent and slept with her. The next day, Old Madam Yu then ordered him to accept the servant girl and made her the concubine who was in charge of the Yu family’s inner courtyard.
When Xue-shi learned about it, she became even sadder, and the distance between the couple grew wider. Initially, Xue-shi was very tolerant due to the affection she had for Yu Ming, but over the years, it had gradually disappeared.
After finishing her story, Xue-shi sighed, “It was only yesterday that I found out that Yu Ming secretly did a blood test and determined that Yu ZiAn was not his son. Even though I did not commit adultery, I could not explain why the blood of the father and son did not conglomerate. That was also why I suspected that ZiAn was not my biological son but someone who had been replaced. It was with such confusion that I ended up hurting ZiAn’s heart. However, when I heard that ZiAn almost died frozen in the streets from Uncle Wang, I recalled everything from all these years. Without this child, I would not have been able to last this long. So, no matter whether ZiAn is my biological son or not, I have already raised him for so many years, and he is my son. Since there is no room for him in that family, I will take him away and live a good life with him in the future. I will not let this child suffer anymore, as over the years, I, as a mother, had neglected him for love. Since we cannot go back to the past, I can only slowly make it up to him in the future.”
Fifth Aunt, who had not expected to hear such twists and turns, asked, “The father and son’s blood did not conglomerate? Is ZiAn really not Yu Ming’s son? Do you remember who the midwife was and who was present at the time of birth?”
Xue-shi nodded. “I remember. I clearly remember that when the child was born, I had always kept an eye on him, so he should not have been exchanged. Besides, it was a sudden premature birth that day, so who could have prepared another child in advance? ZiAn’s poor physique is also due to the premature delivery where he did not manage to develop fully in my womb. How can there be a coincidence where the baby exchanged was also premature?”
“Then did you all conduct another blood test? I have heard that if there is something in that bowl, it will make the blood unable to conglomerate together.”
Xue-shi laughed coldly, “He said that I was being superfluous.”
Fifth Aunt eyebrows knitted tightly. “This concerns your innocence. How could anything regarding ZiAn’s paternity be superfluous?!”
Xue-shi raised her head slightly and held back the tears in her eyes. “When the blood test was conducted, my mother-in-law was also present.”
- 1“滴血认亲” is a traditional paternity blood test conducted in ancient China to identify relatives/kinship. By dripping one drop of blood from the father, and one from the son in a bowl of water, one could then check if they conglomerated in the center. Essentially, if the blood droplets fused together, the child is biological. However, do note that such a paternity test is highly inaccurate even though it does have some scientific basis. It was raised by others that if the blood types are compatible, the two drops will mix easily no matter whether or not they have blood relations.