On the road back to the capital, inside the prince’s carriage, Wei Luo pretended she couldn’t see Zhao Jie. She kept her head lowered and set herself against a pile of toasted pine nuts. From the time she entered the carriage, she had been eating pine nuts with a faint rustling sound as if she were a little squirrel. As she ate and ate, a pair of slender hands took away the jade plate that had been in front of her.
She didn’t have a choice. She could only raise her head to look across.
Zhao Jie placed the place at his side. His dark eyes calmly looked at her. His thin lips were slightly pursed. Although he clearly didn’t say a single word, it seemed as if he had already said everything.
His current reaction was normal. She had tricked him into coming here without explaining anything. Everything that had occurred was strange. If it had been anyone else, he wouldn’t have went gone along with this. But, for her, he was willing to obey her wishes without asking any questions until the matter was resolved.
On the way here, Wei Luo had felt grateful towards him and wasn’t as guarded against him as before. Her voice was as sweet as glutinous rice when she called out, “Big brother, I want to eat pine nuts.”
This didn’t move Zhao Jie, but there was a smile in his eyes, “Tell big brother everything and you can continue eating.”
Wei Luo blinked innocently and cutely, “What do you mean?”
He thought-provokingly said, “What do you think?”
After he said this, he remembered that he was facing a little girl that wasn’t grown-up enough to understand. His usual oppressive methods couldn’t be used, so he changed to say, “Why were you familiar with that place?”
Wei Luo had thought of the answer to this question a long time ago. Now that he was asking her, she offered a realistic answer, “I’ve been there before.”
Zhao Jie raised his eyebrows.
She continued, “Once, daddy took me outside with him. On the way back, there was a heavy rainstorm and we couldn’t continue traveling. We just happened to pass by someone’s home and stayed over for a night.”
She said that person was Bai Lan. Bai Lan had also made and given her a silk flower. She still remembered that night. “Later on, elder sister Bai Lan came to the capital to sell silk flowers. I recognized her, so I had her delivering silk flowers to Duke Ying’s residence every half month.”
Zhao Jie thought of Yang Hang’s reports. He had indeed mentioned a girl that would go to Duke Ying’s residence every half month and seemed familiar with Ah Luo.
Ah Luo held her cheeks and sighed sadly, “Elder sister Bai Lan told me one time that she wouldn’t be able to come again. I asked her why… At first, she didn’t want to say anything. She only told me after I pleaded with her.” The little girl flattened her lips and made a look as if she were about to cry, “Later on, she really ended up not coming back. I was worried that something had happened to her, so I asked for your help to bring me there.”
Having said this, she raised her head to look at him with teary eyes. Her eyes were clear. She didn’t seem like she was lying.
Zhao Jie looked at her without speaking. He raised his hand and slowly rubbed the red birthmark on her eyebrow. This little girl’s explanation was fair and reasonable. But, he didn’t know why. He just couldn’t accept this as completely true. She was tricky and cunning. Her thoughts were complicated. Did she really want to come here for such a simple reason?
Then why did she cry as if she were broken-hearted and wronged last night? Why did she feel such resentment and bitterness towards that woman? It was shown the moment that she viciously struck down with that hairpin. This couldn’t be explained in a few words.
Wei Luo saw that he didn’t have any reaction. She called out once to get his attention and pointed at the jade plate next to him to ask, “Can I eat now?”
Zhao Jie bent his lips and soon, he slowly said, “You can eat.”
Perhaps he was overthinking. Or, perhaps she really was hiding something from him. If it were the latter, it was okay. If she didn’t want to say, he wasn’t in a hurry to force her to tell the truth. Inevitably, he would know everything eventually.
The carriage slowly traveled through the capital and eventually stopped at the entrance to Duke Ying’s residence.
Wei Luo hadn’t returned last night. Wei Kun was worried to death and had ordered people to search the capital. From beginning to end, they didn’t find her. If Prince Jing’s servant hadn’t come early in the morning to tell him that Ah Luo was with Zhao Jie and that she wasn’t in danger, he might have already gone insane from worry.
After Wei Kun learned that the two of them had gone to save someone last night, he was shocked. He waited until Zhao Jie left, then he hurriedly asked Wei what had happened. Wei Luo repeated what she had told Zhao Jie. But, she took out the part about Wei Kun and her passing through Longshou village.
When she was three years old, Wei Kun had indeed taken her out on a trip that was far away, but they didn’t pass through Longshou village and there wasn’t a heavy rainfall. Their return to the capital had been smooth and unimpeded. Nothing had happened.
After he finished listening to her, he carried her onto his lap. With lingering fear, he said, “Ah Luo, in the future, no matter who is in trouble, you can’t go to such a dangerous place.”
Wei Luo muddled-headedly nodded to show that she heard him.
She wouldn’t go there. She would never go back to that place again. In this life, she was Duke Ying’s family’s fourth miss that lived a life of luxury like a princess. She didn’t have anything to do with that little girl who had combed her hair into unadorned plaited braids and wore simple clothing with scattered flower blossoms design.
After Zhao Jie returned to his residence, he ordered Zhu Geng to investigate. Five years ago, Wei Kun had indeed gone to Yangzhou and had taken Wei Luo and Chang Hong with him. On the way back to the capital, they would have passed by the road to Longshou village. But, as for whether or not they had stayed in that village overnight, it was too long ago. It wasn’t possible to verify.
At Duke Ying’s residence.
After this event, Wei Luo accepted Ah Dai as a personal servant girl. She thought that Ah Dai as a name was too casual and simple, so she let her continue using Bai Lan as her name. She ended up keeping this name for many years.
Wei Luo silently grew up in Duke Ying’s residence without notice. The place that she went to the most often was Han-shi‘s Orchid Courtyard. She would use Han-shi‘s body products to wash her face, rinse her mouth, and take baths. She became more and more tender and lovely. In the blink of an eye, many years had passed. The little girl that used to be as beautiful as carved white jade had now grown into teenage budding beauty with an incomparable appearance.