That day, before they went out to work, He Yun Sheng asked: “Why did you wake up so late today? We won’t be able to find good spots later.”
“I had things to do.” He Yan answered: “It’s fine if we don’t get a good spot, our cakes are good enough.”
He Yun Sheng was rendered speechless.
For him, talking to He Yan was like punching cotton, you couldn’t express your anger even if you wanted to. He Yan wasn’t easy to provoke and had a carefree attitude. He Yun Sheng couldn’t tell if she was being optimistic or naïve. It had been a long time since He Yun Sheng saw He Yan feel distressed about something.
The shed was put up at the western part of the town where vendors did their various businesses. It was located in front of the biggest restaurant in Jing Cheng, Restaurant Zui Yu. There were a number of people and the vendors were making profits. However, the shed wasn’t very big, therefore, they had to go early to get a good spot that could attract the attention of the passersby.
He Yun Sheng took out the Da Nai cakes from the wooden utensil.
The Da Nai cake was a popular dessert. Fresh plums without skin and seeds were used to make this cake. These white plums were first scalded and mixed with licorice soup briefly. Then, the gaps were filled with honey, walnuts, olive, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds. Lastly, the ingredients were steamed. The cake was generally sweet but also tasted a little sour. These cakes were not very expensive and were a favorite among the commoners. By selling Da Nai cakes, He Yun Sheng was able to contribute to the income of the He family.
When the summer sun shone and the weather was pleasant, people would stop to buy one or two cakes from time to time. By the sunset, they could finish selling the cakes.
Watching He Yun Sheng work, He Yan had to admit that He Yun Sheng was very capable. It reminded her of those new recruits in the army. These young men who joined the army usually were from poor families. The rich families were unwilling to let their children fight in the battlefield. The poor people joined the army only to feed themselves and their families. They had to do something to survive.
Although she hailed from a noble family, she lived that way.
“Hey, give me one… Isn’t this Miss He?” A voice interrupted He Yan’s train of thoughts.
He Yan looked up to see a man with a long face standing in front of her. His hair was combed neatly and sparkled in the sunlight. His facial features were ugly and repulsive. In his nondescript white robes, he looked rather sly. He raised his hand wanting to hold He Yan’s shoulder, but she dodged away.
The man looked disappointed, but his expression was cheerful when he said: “It has been a while, Miss He. I was wondering why you didn’t come out of your house these days. So it seems you are busy selling cakes with your brother… Isn’t it tiring to do such things, Miss He?”
He talked as if he and He Yan were best friends.
He Yan was puzzled, so she looked at He Yun Sheng. He Yun Sheng was furious and snapped: “Wang Jiu Gui! Leave my sister alone!”
“You little brat, your sister doesn’t mind it, what are you nagging about?!” After finishing his words, the guy called Wang Jiu Gui approached He Yan again with a smile, took something out from his sleeves, and gave it to He Yan: “Young Miss He, I’ve been having fond dreams about you lately. See, I bought a rouge not long ago to gift you. Since I happened to meet you here today, I’m giving it to you now. And so, do I have the pleasure to invite you for a walk by the Si Waterfront?”
He looked like a loser, but ironically acted like a handsome guy, so much that He Yan wanted to laugh. She had met many people in her past life, both good and bad, but someone who dared to mock her in public? None.
“I want to sell cakes, so I can’t go for a walk with you.” He Yan politely declined, “And this rouge, please give it to someone else.”
Wang Jiu Gui was stunned.
He lived on the same street as the He Family. At first, others dared not provoke He Yan as she was the daughter of a government official. However, He Yan was never satisfied of her lifestyle and coveted bigger things. Usually when he bought her cosmetics, she would coquettishly call him “Brother Jiu Gui”, but now she made him lose face in front of everybody.
Wang Jiu Gui felt that he was being disgraced, so his smile wasn’t sincere anymore: “Is Miss He still thinking about Fan gongzi? Fan gongzi is getting married soon…”
“Shut up!” Before Wang Jiu Gui could finish his sentence, he got a tight slap and fell on the ground with a ‘thud’ sound.
A young boy of fifteen was like a half-grown calf, full of power. Wang Jiu Gui’s body was weak because of overindulging himself in wine and women, so how could he be He Yun Sheng’s opponent? His face hurt like hell and his whole body was hot with embarrassment. He stood up after scratching and scrambling on the floor, and then looked at He Yan. She didn’t seem to consider apologizing to him, and even watched the whole seen unfold, full of interest. Anger welled up inside him.
“You two…” He pointed a trembling finger towards the duo.
He Yun Sheng shielded He Yan, blocking her from his sight and sneered: “What’s with us?”
Wang Jiu Gui didn’t dare to step forward, he mumbled: Didn’t these two have a bad relationship? He Yan usually complained about He Yun Sheng to him while He Yun Sheng never cared about He Yan, why are these two together today? And why did He Yun Sheng stand up for He Yan?
“You two wait and watch!” He stomped his foot and ran away.
The crowd dispersed and the shed was silent again. He Yun Sheng set up the stalls with a gloomy face, not saying a word.
He Yan peeked at him.
“What are you looking at?” He Yun Sheng asked peevishly.
“The punch you did just now was not bad.” He Yan said pensively, “The only problem is, your legs under the belt are unstable, your basics aren’t strong enough and you need to train yourself on standing on tiptoes and clenching your buttocks.”
“Shush!” He Yun Sheng didn’t want to continue talking about it anymore, “You’re not a martial arts officer.”
He Yan looked at He Yun Sheng; he was talented and could be molded to a good soldier. Maybe it was because he did heavy chores since he was a kid. Needless to say, he was much better compared to the young masters of the ‘He Family’.
He shouldn’t be here selling Da Nai cakes, he ought to go to school and train himself in the martial arts hall.
“Then I’ll change the topic, who is Fan gongzi?”
He Yun Sheng slammed his fist on the table and glared at her, “You dare to talk about it?”
“What’s with Fan gongzi?” He Yan gave him a puzzled glance.
Talking about ‘Fan gongzi’ made He Yun Sheng furious. “Why? If it wasn’t because of him deceiving you, how would you have been fooled by him? That playboy seduces women all around and only you will believe in him. When you heard that he was getting married, you went on a hunger strike, wanting to die for him. But him? He’s still busy marrying a new girl! Look at you, you’ve become the joke of Jing Cheng. Now you’re still mentioning him? Do you want to drive me mad?!”
He Yan got the rough idea about the whole situation just through these few words.
The eldest miss of the He family was a spoiled brat. Her heart was higher than the sky, how could she be willing to live as a lowlife? She wanted to marry to a noble family and become a noble herself. One day, she met a young man from a rich family when she was out for a walk, and the two of them secretly fell in love with each other. However, He Yan’s love for him was unrequited and the young man just played with her feelings. A rich young man would never marry a daughter of a non-duty officer.
Fan gongzi’s family had found him a partner from a rich family; they would be a perfect match. But would Miss He give up on him that easily? She went to his house to demand an explanation, but was swept out immediately. She couldn’t accept it and went on a hunger strike. As she was dying, He Yan woke up and replaced the eldest miss of the He family.
No wonder everyone in He Family treated her with extra care after she woke up; they might have thought that she would try to commit suicide again.
He Yun Sheng was still babbling about her, saying she was a fool, but he didn’t know his real sister was not in this world anymore. He Yan felt regret and disappointment for the previous Miss He. Her only mistake was that she fell in love with a man who deceived her and sacrificed her life for him. One’s life is valuable and should not be wasted for men like him. Plus, the one who cheated her lived happily although she passed away, leaving the ones who truly loved her in pain.
Inflicting pain on her loved ones and bringing happiness to her enemies… what did one achieve by doing this? Death.
Her experience was similar to Miss He’s; both of them were cheated and betrayed by others. However, she and the Eldest He Miss were different. He Yuan Sheng, He Yuan Liang, He Ru Fei and Xu Zhi Heng and even He Wan Ru… She would find them one by one and get back all the things she had lost because of them.
She poured her blood, sweat, and tears to attain this goal.
Every morning, she tied sandbags to her limbs and climbed the mountain to get back her power. She sold cakes in the afternoon to find out news about the He and Xu families from various people.
This was what the townsfolk said: The blind He Furen drowned to death because of an accident, Master Xu was so aggrieved that he became very sick. Old He Master was very sad about this ordeal and his hair turned white in a night. General Fei Hong loved his sister very much so he managed her funeral himself and it was held for three days and three nights.
This news may have been real or fake but they entered He Yan’s ears like snowflakes and she only smiled.
The truth was hidden and He Yan had to reveal it. To accomplish that, first, she must survive.