That night was strange.
Many people smiled respectfully at me and many maids added dishes to my plate.
I wanted to say that I was a maid just like them, so why were they adding dishes for me?
But I didn't dare to speak, in this situation I couldn't even eat, let alone talk.
The Second Master sat on one side from the beginning to the end, smiling and chatting with the people around him. Although he was smiling, he was not frivolous, instead he was very calm.
The people around him spoke to him respectfully and he had no airs.
As for what they were talking about, I didn't understand a bit.
Later, after three rounds of wine, suddenly someone came to the other table and knelt in front of the Second Master.
I looked closely and, oh! It was that nobleman who had surrounded the Second Master and had beaten me before.
He knelt on the ground, but his waist was not bent. It seemed that he had drunk a lot, his face was flushed. He looked at Second Master, panting, and said: "Second Master Yang, I don't know what your invitation today means, but there is one thing I have to say!"
You can just say it, what are you yelling for?
Second Master looked at him quietly and said: "Speak."
The man was so excited that his nostrils were slightly enlarged. He shouted loudly: "At the time when Second Master suffered, my Wang family did not lend a hand. I, Wang Zhi, even dropped stones into the well. It is reasonable for Second Master to be successful now and control the business route of half of Jiangnan without taking care of my Wang family! But–!!"
Wang Zhi was really drunk, and the whole boat was watching him. He stared at the Second Master firmly and said: "But! I, Wang Zhi, do not regret it–!" There was even a hint of crying in his voice.
"I don't regret it! When you were drunk and causing trouble in Guihua Tower, you cut off my wife's hair. My wife didn't dare to go out for half a year and never showed a happy face. Do you remember–!?”
I was silent and secretly looked at the Second Master.
The Second Master had no expression.
Wang Zhi shouted the last sentence: "So I don't regret it! Yang Yiqi, our Wang family's small business can live without your care–!"
Second Master finally spoke.
"Then why are you kneeling to me now?"
Everyone was silent, including Wang Zhi.
No need to take care, so why kneel.
Wang Zhi bent down and cried loudly, and everyone on the boat was watching.
Second Master pushed the stool and stood on the ground. He didn't lean on a cane, one hand on the table, one hand on Wang Zhi's shoulder.
Wang Zhi didn't move.
Second Master used some force and said, "Young Master Wang, get up."
Wang Zhi looked at the Second Master and finally stood up.
When he stood up, the Second Master became the shortest person on the boat. Someone wanted to come and help him sit down, Second Master shook his head, poured himself a glass of wine, turned around and said to everyone in a low voice:
"Everyone who was invited here today, some of you know me, some don't. Some have done favors, some have become enemies. This glass of wine, I toast to those who have done favors."
Second Master finished a glass of wine, threw the cup, moved back a step, looked up and said again: "This head, I bow to those who have become enemies."
Before anyone could react, the Second Master bowed his head and knocked on the wooden boards of the boat with a bang. He only had half a thigh, so it was not easy to bow his head.
Everyone was stunned, including me.
Who dared to accept the Second Master's head? Not to mention me as a maid, the people seated were all those who had asked the Second Master for something, so no one dared to accept it, and no one dared to speak.
Second Master got up, his expression still unchanged. He poured himself another glass of wine and said to everyone: "I, Yang Yiqi, came out to do business, relying only on three things--!"
"Courage, mind, and credit." Second Master's voice was steady and his eyes were clear. "I have made mistakes before, and God has punished me. If you are willing to give me a chance and believe me again, then everyone will have good luck and make money together in the future. Yang Yiqi will never let everyone down."
The Second Master is indeed the Second Master, he can talk a lot. In a few words, several people in the seat were crying.
"As for you." Second Master looked at Wang Zhi and pointed his thumb to me. He said in a low voice: "Kneel three times to her and ask her to say it's okay, then it's over."
Wang Zhi looked at me and nodded.
I was flustered as I watched him.
I tried to say, "No, no, it's okay."
He rose to his feet, and the Second Master gave him a nod.
On the way back, the Second Master called me into the carriage and said, "I'm sorry for putting you in this situation."
I was shocked, it was the first time I had ever been apologised to by the Second Master. I said, "No, it's not a problem." The Second Master chuckled and said, "Come closer."
I shifted closer, not daring to look up at the Second Master. He said, "Why are you always looking down? What are you looking at?" I mumbled, "Just the thumbs."
The Second Master took off his jade ring from his thumb and placed it in my hand, "Do you like it? Here, it's yours."
I shook my head, saying, "I, I was just looking." The Second Master took my hand and put the ring in it. It was a beautiful, lush green, and still held the warmth of the Second Master. I held it tightly, not daring to speak.
After the Second Master returned home, he decided to stay. He purchased a large estate similar to the Yang's. The Madam and young mistresses were brought back as well, and the estate suddenly became much livelier.
The Second Master, who had been so despised before, was now the Second Master of the estate. Everyone bowed to him and referred to him as the old Master, except for his mother.
After the estate was bustling with activity, the steward recruited a few maids. I knew immediately that they were for the Second Master's courtyard.
I sat in the courtyard for a long time, gazing at the moon in a daze. I calculated in my head how much money I had. After some time, I was pleasantly surprised that I had become quite wealthy over the years.
No, I was a wealthy monkey.
In the following days, I exchanged all my money for silver notes, and exchanged all the clothes and jewelry the Second Master had given me for silver coins. The only thing I couldn't bear to part with was the jade ring, so I kept it in my bundle.
My indenture was still with the Madam, so I went to her and explained my situation, and gave her the money to buy my freedom.
The Madam looked at me and softly said, "There's no indenture, it was dissolved when the incident happened."
I was stunned and said, "Then I will take my leave, please take care of yourself, Madam."
The Madam did not respond, and just sat in the pavilion, her head bowed and tears in her eyes.
I didn't know why she was crying, so I went to her and said, "Please don't cry, the Second Master’s doing really well now."
The Madam ignored me and continued to cry, “My pitiful son, my pitiful son…”
I couldn't console her, so I sighed and turned to leave.
As I turned, I saw the Second Master leaning on a cane, standing not far away, his gaze fixed on my bundle. The old steward stood beside him, trembling.
I went up to him and said, "Second Master, I'm leaving."
The master smiled at me and said, "Okay."
I was a little displeased. After all, I had been through a lot with him, even though I was just a maid. Of course, I didn't dare to show my dissatisfaction, and I said, "Take care, Second Master."
I walked away from him, and after going a long way, I secretly looked back. The Second Master was still standing there, and the steward was already kneeling beside him, not knowing what to say.
I felt like the master's back was a little bent.
I shook my head immediately.
How could that be?
I hired a cart and prepared to go back home. However, after only three days, I was intercepted by the steward. He ran up to me as if he had seen his mother, kneeling in front of me. Everyone in the inn was looking at us. He said, "Miss, please come back—please!"
I said, "What's wrong?"
The steward spoke incoherently for a while, and I eventually understood–
The Second Master was ill.
I went out with a bullock cart and returned with a horse carriage. On the way, I asked the steward, "It's only been three days, how did he get sick?"
The steward had a worried look on his face and said, "Sigh, it's all my fault, it's all my fault."
Not getting an answer to my question, I asked again, "What exactly is the illness?"
The steward sighed deeply and said to me earnestly, "Miss, the Second Master is suffering in his heart."
I didn't ask any more.
When I returned to the manor, everyone was looking at me. I lowered my head and went into the Second Master's courtyard. The steward sent me to the entrance and everyone else left.
The courtyard was big but there was no one.
I felt a bit resentful towards the steward in my heart, how come there was no one to serve him when you hired so many maids.
I knocked on the door to the Second Master's room and said, "Second Master, are you in?"
There was no response from inside.
I was afraid something had happened, so I pushed the door open.
Inside, the Second Master was wearing his nightgown and lying on the bed with his eyes closed. The first look I had of him made my heart ache, it was clear that he was really ill.
I went over and softly said, "Second Master, how do you feel? I'll go get a doctor for you."
Second Master slowly opened his eyes and looked at me. In a hoarse voice, he said, "You still care if I live or die."
My mouth hung open and I didn't know what to say.
Second Master stretched out a hand and I subconsciously held it. His hand was big, and it was all callused. I didn't know what Old Master's hand was like before, if it was also like Second Master's, weathered by the wind and frost.
He covered his eyes with his other hand and said in a low voice, "Little monkey, you can't leave. If you do, I won't be able to hold on..."
That was the most heartbreaking sentence the Second Master had ever said to me. It hurt more than when he used to hit and kick me.
Translations during sleepless nights. I can sleep when I'm dead! ...Please let me sleep. Happy readers keep me awake, and lots of love and a huge thank you for supporting my hobby!
Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@ypeels.