Xia Xun slept for a whole day, and when he woke up, it was already the morning of the next day.
Qi Yan was sitting at the table, reading something by daylight.
He didn’t know if it was an illusion, but it seemed to Xia Xun that Qi Yan’s forehead was slightly red.
He stretched out and sat up, muttering with the drowsiness that had not yet dissipated: “I’ve been sleeping for a long time, I’m hungry.”
Qi Yan heard him speak and turned his head to look at him.
“Hungry? Just in time, I bought acacia leaf cold cakes, come and eat.”
When Xia Xun heard that, he no longer felt sleepy, pushed away the quilt, walked to the table, picked up one cake and ate it.
Qi Yan patted the chair beside him, inviting him to sit down.
“Your hair is messed up, come here, let me comb it for you.”
Xia Xun sat and ate the pastry while Qi Yan combed his hair.
He was in a good mood today: although he was about to meet those family members who were angry with him, he was still happy in his heart.
His hand was mostly healed, hardly hurting anymore, and he woke up this morning to eating his favourite snack and his favourite person combing his hair.
There could be no happier day than this, Xia Xun thought.
Qi Yan’s hands were neither light, nor heavy; he patiently combed Xia Xun and in a short time, Xia Xun’s messy hair became soft and smooth.
Qi Yan didn’t have an extra guan for hair and used a cloth hairband to fix Xia Xun’s hair on top of his head.
“There you go,” he said softly.
Xia Xun turned around and smiled at him.
“You’re so much better than Shaobo! She makes it hurt every time!”
Qi Yan smiled watching him; his smile was faint, as if fleeting.
Xia Xun thought he was worried for him and comforted him, saying: “Don’t worry, it’s not like they’ll really eat me! We’ll be separated just for a while, I’ll come back to you tonight!”
Qi Yan placed the comb into his hand.
“Take this and use it later.”
Xia Xun said, “No! I have plenty of combs at home!”
Qi Yan insisted: “Take it.”
Xia Xun reluctantly said: “Fine, fine! I’ll do as you say!”
He put the comb in his sleeve and turned to look at the sun. It was time for him to go back.
This time Xia Xun couldn’t go over the wall, he had to walk in through the front door.
Qi Yan accompanied him until he was only a few feet away from the gate of Xia Mansion.
Qi Hui quietly tugged on his sleeve, signalling him not to come any closer.
There was still white silk hanging on the gate and paper money was sprinkled on the ground in front of the gate.
Xia Xun bade farewell to Qi Yan: “I’ll go then!”
Qi Yan whispered, “En.”
Xia Xun took a few steps forward, and Qi Yan called him from behind: “Xia Xun!”
He immediately turned back.
There were so many thoughts in Qi Yan’s mind, he had so many things to say, but in the end, he only said:
“Nothing, go ahead.”
Xia Xun waved to him and walked towards Xia Mansion.
When the servants at the gate saw him, they were shocked and a few of them swiftly ran to the house to report.
Xia Xun was quickly led to the ancestral hall.
Although Xia Xing’s body was no longer there, the Xia family still remained in the hall to perform the final rituals for Xia Xing.
The whole family gathered here, even the elder sister who was married also came back. She was helping Lady Xia, who had fallen to the ground crying, trying to support her
Xia Hongxi’s eyes were red, and when he saw Xia Xun, he swept a glance at him and didn’t ask any questions, but only said: “How did you come back? Did those people let you go—? …never mind, it doesn’t matter… go and offer incense to your brother…”
Xia Xun woodenly accepted the three incense sticks handed to him by a servant, walked to Xia Xun’s casket and casually inserted the incense into the censer.
Xia Hongxi scolded him: “Have you forgotten the etiquette? Can’t you even bow?”
Xia Xun looked at his left hand that was clearly wrapped in bandages but no one in the house seemed to care.
Hearing that he had returned, Lady Xia raised her tear-streaked face and pointed at him, accusing him spitefully:
“You, you, weren’t you kidnapped by bandits? How did you get out? Why are you still alive? Why is it not you who died! You go! Go and give me my son back—!”
Xia Xun stood frozen and speechless.
Xia Wen couldn’t listen to it any longer and said to his elder sister Xia Yin:
“Mother is overwhelmed with grief and doesn’t know what she is saying at the moment. You’d better help her back to her room, she’s been crying for days and it’s time for her to rest for a while.”
Xia Yin and the maids assisted Lady Xia and helped her out of the ancestral hall. All the way, she wailed in grief and questioned Xia Xun why he was not the one who died.
Xia Wen comforted Xia Xun.
“Don’t take Mother’s words to heart. After Xia Xing died, she was so sad that she didn’t realise what she was saying.”
Xia Wen did not know about Xia Xun’s being kidnapped by the bandits. Xia Hongxi lied to him and said that Xia Xun went to a friend’s house out of town to stay for a while.
Xia Wen said, “It’s really hard for you to rush all the way back to the capital. Xia Xing is already buried, so I’m afraid you will not be able to see him.”
Xia Xun didn’t understand what he was talking about and didn’t want to figure it out, so he shook his head.
“Thank you for your words of comfort, then I… will go down first.”
He walked out of the ancestral hall through the side door, with no one giving him more than a glance.
When he returned to his own small courtyard, Shaobo had long been waiting for him at the courtyard entrance, and as soon as she saw him, she pounced on him with glee.
Yuzhu barked excitedly and circled around him, his tail wagging so hard it was about to fall off.
As if a thousand pounds had been lifted off his shoulders, Xia Xun laughed out easily: “It’s so good to see you guys!”
Shaobo and Yuzhu surrounded him on both sides and followed him into the room.
On the table was a grapefruit that Shaobo had peeled for him, and as soon as he sat down, Yuzhu pawed his knees and begged to sit on his lap.
He picked up the chubby little dog and let it nestle on his lap, then picked up a crystal-like lump of grapefruit pulp and stuffed it into his mouth.
“How did you know I was coming back today?”
Shaobo said, “Of course this slave didn’t know. So I peeled one every day to give it to Little Master if he comes back. And if Little Master didn’t come back, this slave would eat it herself.”
Xia Xun unmercifully saw through her.
“In fact, you just wanted to eat it yourself, right?”
Shaobo denied solemnly: “If you leave it, it will be a waste. It might as well go into this slave’s stomach.”
Yuzhu kept sniffing Xia Xun’s hand; Xia Xun saw his interest, broke off a small piece of grapefruit and fed him. Yuzhu took a bite and bared his teeth, wincing from acidity.
Shaobo added: “Little Master, you were saved this time thanks to this slave and Yuzhu. If not for our wisdom, you would have been dead!”
Xia Xun was also curious: “I have long wanted to ask, how did you find Qi Yan and ask him to save me?”
Shaobo said smugly: “This slave wrote a note and stuffed it into Yuzhu’s collar, and Yuzhu crawled through the dog hole and brought in the rescuers!”
Xia Xun said in amazement: “You can write? You can’t even write your own name, and you can write a note?”
Shaobo was even prouder.
“It was a matter of wisdom in a hurry! In fact, I don’t know if the writing was correct, but I thought that Master Qi was so smart that he would be able to read it. As expected, not long after Yuzhu left, Master Qi came with him! You passed out and didn’t see it! When Master Qi kicked open the courtyard door, he was so powerful!”
Xia Xun was dumbfounded.
“He personally broke into Xia Mansion to save me? How did he get in?”
Shaobo said, “This slave doesn’t know either! All I know is that Master Qi is really nice! Although he is a bit poor, he is very sincere to Little Master! Little Master, you can’t let him down in the future!”
When Qi Yan was mentioned, Xia Xun’s eyes curved up in a smile.
“Of course! Besides, there’s no one better looking than him under the sun! Even for the sake of his face, I will hold onto him!”
Shaobo teased: “Little Master is so shy when he is lusting after someone!”
Xia Xun deliberately put on a face.
“Are you talking to your master like that?”
Shaobo didn’t have enough, she picked up Yuzhu, held up his front paw and patted Xia Xun’s face twice: “Little Master is a lustful devil!”
Xia Xun made a move to pinch her face; Shaobo dodged fast, picked up Yuzhu and rushed to the door.
Xia Xun did not relent and followed them. Shaobo put Yuzhu on her shoulder and ran around the courtyard.
Yuzhu, turned upside down by her, had so much fun that he grinned widely in excitement.
At the entrance of the courtyard, Shaobo could not run anymore and stopped, panting.
Xia Xun also stopped chasing, slowly came up and rapped her on the head: “Improper behaviour!”
Shaobo was about to put down Yuzhu, when she suddenly glanced outside the courtyard and saw several household members run around in panic, shouting loudly:
“The family is seized! The family is seized! Quickly run! If you don’t run, it will be too late!”
Xia Xun and Shaobo froze for a moment, looking at each other.
Xia Xun walked out and managed to stop a house servant and asked:
“What’s happening? What’s going on? You can’t talk nonsense like that!”
The guy who was stopped couldn’t even catch his breath.
“It’s not nonsense! The official is here with his men! Right in front of the main house! The master is being escorted over there! Young Master, if you can… run, you should run!”
After saying that, he pushed Xun Xia away and ran hastily towards the back door of Xia Mansion.
Xia Xun looked at the gate of the mansion far away; everywhere around the main house, servants and maids panicked, some fleeing to the back door and some falling to the ground, confused and not knowing what to do.
He muttered quietly: “Oh no, something may have happened.”
Shaobo’s face was full of dismay: “Is it because of the second young master? But he is already dead, the emperor can’t… still want to kill all our family, right?!”
Xia Xun thought about it and said: “No, I have to go and see.”
Shaobo said quickly, “This slave will go with you!”
Xia Xun immediately stopped her.
“You can’t go. In case something really happens, if you go, you will also be caught.”
He thought for a moment and said:
“Do you remember? There is a cellar in my courtyard. Take Yuzhu and hide inside first! Lock the door from the inside and don’t open it for anyone who comes! If nothing happens, I will come to look for you and if… something really happens, you take Yuzhu and escape! The farther you escape, the better!”
Shaobo pulled Xia Xun’s sleeve.
“This slave is not afraid of death! I want to go with Little Master!”
Xia Xun pressed down her hand.
“Silly girl, if you and I both lose our lives, what about Yuzhu? If a puppy like him is out on the street, he’ll be caught and eaten before it gets dark! Good girl, promise me that you will protect Yuzhu for me!”
He pulled Shaobo away, straightened his clothes and resolutely walked towards the main house.
Shaobo, holding Yuzhu, stood at a loss as she watched his figure disappear in the distance.