Chapter 105 The ulterior motive
Shu Huan stood up and poured another cup of tea for Gu Xiran. This time she didn’t urge him and quietly waited for him to continue.
Gu Xiran organized Du Qiu’s words in his head and said, “That uncle of Shang Xin had always only idled about. Moreover, dining, wining, whoring and gambling, he did them all. As long as he had money, he would surely spend them all. After he had spent them all, he would ask his big brother for money. If he couldn’t get the money, he would steal the things of the house and pawn them. That her family was poor like this had everything to do with her uncle’s willful squandering of money. The moment the villager who knew about this mention him, they would scold him, saying that if it wasn’t because Shang Xin’s father maintained him and was cautious, even his house and the remaining two acres of thin field would’ve been sold.
“Then, isn’t it that her uncle had no one to restrict him after her father had passed away?”
Gu Xiran nodded, “In the beginning it was great. Her uncle swore before her father’s death that he won’t gamble ever again in this life. However, an addiction is not easy to quit. He endured for a few months, but he couldn’t withstand the temptation of those owners of the dens and still pawned the things of home to go gamble. He won a bit money at first. He didn’t know that this was a temptation trick that the owners often used. He only thought that although Shang Xin brought bad luck to her parents, but she could bring good luck to his fortune. Hence, he treated Shang Xin quite well. Because of the new year, he even let people made some new clothes for her. However, the more he gambled afterwards, the more he lost. The more he lost, the more he gambled. Not only had he pawned everything at home, he even lost the house and the fields.”
Every gambler with a gambling addiction would have a mentality like it was the end of the world. If the mountain and river weren’t exhausted and they couldn’t gamble anymore, they wouldn’t stop. Shu Huan could guess what had happened afterwards and said, “Did he also gamble Shang Xin away?”
- Mountain and river exhausted: no more money
“Mm.” Gu Xiran lowered his head and drank some tea. “It would be fine if he had only lost her away. It may be miserable if she had been resold. However, if she was able to be sold to a benevolent family to be a maid, it would be better than following her uncle.
Shu Huan frowned and asked, “What else had happened?”
“I don’t know,” Gu Xiran shook his head. “The villagers had determined that she had been secretly sold, but her uncle had been strongly crying out grievance, saying that Shang Xin had hid the last food and sneaked away in the middle of the night. She was just a child and didn’t have money; where could she run off to? It happened that even her shadow couldn’t be found anywhere. Hence, she was considered one of the people that mysteriously went missing at Shadow Moon Village.”
Shu Huan frowned even more and said solemnly, “We encountered Shang Xin on the mountain. Then, she had escaped for sure. However, had she escaped before or after her uncle took her to pay the debt?”
“Before,” Gu Xiran answered with certainty. “Her uncle probably hasn’t lied, but I feel that there is more to this.”
“How did you deduce this?”
“On the night of her disappearance, someone saw her uncle drunk and stumbled back home. The next morning, the villagers found out that the door of their (SX & uncle) kitchen wasn’t closed. Her uncle was drunk and soundly asleep on the ground. Next to him was a rod to light the fire for cooking. The pot of water sitting on the stove had almost burned up. Presumably, there was no one watching the fire. If it wasn’t because the firewood in the stove had all burned, perhaps, there would be a fire.”
Shu Huan was in deep thoughts and didn’t spoke.
Gu Xiran continued, “The most important point was that when he woke up, he looked for Shang Xin through the entire house while swearing. In the end, he didn’t find her and the little bit of food at home was also missing. Hence, he asserted that Shang Xin sneaked away when he was drunk. Afterwards, the person who looked the most diligent for her was him.”
“How could he not find diligently? He already gambled her away. Wouldn’t it be bad if he couldn’t pay when those owners come to his house for the person?” Shu Huan rarely showed sarcasm. She could deduce what had happened to Shang Xin after she escaped. There was some pleasure in her heart because he got what he deserved, but she was still puzzled, “However, this can only prove that he didn’t lie, why do you say that there is more to this? From how you described it, I can deduce that Shang Xin escaped in a rush.”
Gu Xiran smiled slightly, “Her uncle went out to gamble during the day and would often come back at night. If she wanted to escape, why didn’t she escape when there was no one at home instead of choosing to escape away at such an inconvenient time at night?”
“The day that her uncle was drunk, was it the day that her uncle gambled her away?”
Gu Xiran nodded.
“Perhaps it was because she knew that tomorrow she would be send to the group of owners, she got afraid and ran away when her uncle was unconscious from being too drink.”
This time, Gu Xiran shook his head.
Shu Huan frowned, “Is there a loophole with my deduction?”
Gu Xiran slightly raised the corners of his lips, “It couldn’t be considered a loophole. Just think about Shang Xin’s circumstance when we had encountered her.”
Shu Huan lowered her head and thought for a moment. Then, she said, “She was afraid to be in contact with people. At that time, I felt that she must’ve experienced a big blow. But there was nothing that didn’t match with her situation. She was afraid that if she went down the mountain, she would be sent back home. It was normal to struggle, fight and not wanting to go with us.”
“Mm, only one thing was a bit out of the ordinary,” Gu Xiran smiled. “She wasn’t afraid of you.”
Shu Huan was surprised for a moment and then said, “I looked the least threatening. Moreover, I’m a woman like her. It was more natural to get along. Don’t forget, here is the age where men and women couldn’t come in close contact with each other.”
Gu Xiran didn’t point out that it was right or wrong. He only lowered his eyes and said, “There is a little detail. She ran away while the water was still burning on the stove. She left in such a hurry that she didn’t even put off the fire. In case the water had dried and caused a fire, the house that her father left would be burned down. Not to mention, her drunk uncle was still on the ground. Even if he treated her badly, they were blood-related.”
Shu Huan lowered her head and thought again. She frowned even more, “What do you want to say?”
“There is more to this matter.”
“You want to say that she was afraid of men approaching…that something must’ve happened that made her unable to consider other things at that time and only know how to escape…,” If the clues were being put independently, there was no problem with them. However, with Gu Xiran’s reminder, she came to a sufficiently shocking conclusion.
Shu Huan suddenly raised her eyes, “It isn’t what I’m thinking, right? She even took the food left at the house. This shows that the situation at that time wasn’t so urgent. As for the water burning on the stove, it was very likely that she forgot to put out the fire…”
Gu Xiran raised an eyebrow, touched his chin and said, “I only think that there is such a possibility. I didn’t say that it must be like that. However, the place where the rod to light the fire for cooking fell was quite strange. It was right next to the uncle.”
“Gu Xiran…,” Shu Huan was a bit dejected. “Your deduction is a bit dark. Here are the ancient times where the Confucian code of ethics is rigid. Moreover, they had the relation of uncle and niece. The most important thing was that Shang Xin was only as old as little fourth. Her uncle didn’t become a beast to such a degree, right?”
“Was he still not beast enough?” Gu Xiran sighed. “I also hope that my deduction is that I thought too darkly about the matter. But her uncle is really not a good person. When the owners couldn’t get the person (SX), they beat him up, seized the deed of the house and ordered him to find the person within six months or pay them back. He could only go live at the broken temple in front of the village and earned some copper coins by helping people every day. Even like this, he didn’t show any remorse. When he had the money, he would go drink or gamble. When he got drunk, he would curse Shang Xin, saying that if he catches her, he would let her die very miserably.”
“Truly the scum of scums….” Shu Huan scolded in a low voice. She stood up, raised her head and said, “There is no way we would send Shang Xin back. Then, I will take her in. think of a way for me to buy her back to avoid when her uncle got to know about her whereabouts, he would come here for her. It’s not right for us to let the person stay forcefully.”
Gu Xiran nodded and didn’t say anything anymore.