A Flower’s Shade

Free A Flower’s Shade by Ye Zhaoyan

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Authors: Ye Zhaoyan
grown prettier since he had last seen her, and prouder. In an old-fashioned, reluctant way, she greeted Fourth Uncle and then looked Huaifu up and down as though she had been presented with a monster. In an unfriendly manner she asked Fourth Uncle, "What's wrong with his head? What hole did he crawl out of?"
    Fourth Uncle explained, while signaling Huaifu to greet her. Huaifu timidly greeted her. Miss Yu seemed to be aware of the possible adoption, rolled her eyes and said "Don't call me sister, you're not my brother." Instantly, Huaifu felt deeply wounded, and he had all but cried. When she had spoken, she turned and left, while Fourth Uncle smiled affectedly in order to cover his retreat. The whole day had been thoroughly unpleasant, they were welcome nowhere. Meeting with Old Master Zhen, Huaifu felt so unjustly treated by his contemptuous glare that he had almost burst into sobs. Apparently because there were things he didn't want Huaifu to hear, Fourth Uncle had told him to wait outside in the courtyard for a while. He had stayed by himself in the courtyard, feigning an interest in the carved pictured on the wall tiles, feeling as abject as though a knife were twisting inside him. Miss Yu had shown such a vile attitude towards him, and all he could hope for would be to leave sooner rather than later.
    That day they weren't even asked to stay for a meal. When their visit was over, Fourth Uncle had to take him to a little noodle shop for a bowl of noodles. "They might seem impressive just now," Fourth Uncle said consolingly when the noodles had arrived, "But sooner or later they will need you." Huaifu could no longer remember what those noodles had tasted like, but what he could not forget was not only that he had been humiliated in the Zhen Estate, but also—which made him feel even more miserable—that he dreamt of meeting Miss Yu that night. In his dreams, Miss Yu was just as arrogant as in real life, and she humiliated him once again, and even gave him a hard slap in the face. The strange thing was that the slap didn't hurt, and that when he touched his own face, he smelled an alluring fragrance. The fragrance drilled into his mind and he felt an insuppressible pleasure. It was then that he realized he had had a wet dream.
    When he was with Miss Yu, he would often blush on account of this memory that he wished would disappear. He would frequently be subject to sudden attacks of shame on account of this unforgotten recollection. He had never thought that, years later, he really would become a part of the Zhen household. He had never thought that he really would be in such proximity with her, morning, noon and night, her closest companion. It seemed that Miss Yu had already seen through him. Huaifu was sure that such a heavenly woman was sure to know everything, could find anything out. Everything was predetermined, from the first meeting, Huaifu had had a premonition that he and Miss Yu would share a bond that could never be severed. The joys and sorrows between them had long been preordained. It was preordained that they would share the same stage, to act out the same tragedy.
    "What's the big deal about this Estate?" Miss Yu had asked him more than once. It was obvious that she no longer detested him as much as before. Huaifu was a humble man, but Miss Yu could not understand why a perfectly fine man would let himself be ordered around like a servant. "Don't you have any character at all?"
    Ever since Huaifu had appeared, it was as though she had acquired a personal houseboy. She could take him with her on any of her wanderings through the great Estate, and sometimes even took him along when she went outside. For many years, Miss Yu had led a reclusive life in the Estate. Her father had never allowed her to go out. Although by that time, modern education had already become popular, her father had been old-fashioned on the point of her upbringing. On the pretext of her addiction to opium, he had engaged private

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