Chapter 1: Gu Sui’er was Pregnant
One evening, Gu Sui’er was taken back to the village. It was said that at that time, her black hair stuck to her face, and her eyes were swollen red. Her face was stained with marks of dried tears.
Everyone said that her innocence was ruined by a guest who was staying at the inn.
Gu Sui’er was from a poor family. The innkeeper in the town knew her to be a hard-working and beautiful girl, so he hired her to help out in the kitchen of the inn. At that time, everyone envied her ability to make money in the town.
Now that Gu Sui’er had encountered such a major event, everyone began to talk ill at her back. They said that the innkeeper was too kind to her and did not manage her seriously.
In fact, when she was a child, Gu Sui’er had once bumped her head against a rock so she hadn’t always been very bright. Others said that Gu Sui’er was a silly little girl.
But fortunately, this silly girl was very beautiful. Her eyes were as good as the clear springs in the mountains, her skin was white and tender, and her lips were redder than the flowers in the mountains. One wouldn’t find a girl more beautiful than her in the nearby villages. Additionally, Gu Sui’er was diligent and she always smiled warmly. As a result, everyone liked her.
Some even said that Gu Sui’er was one of the little fairy maidens’ by Her Majesty, The Queen Mother’s(1) side, who descended on earth instead of staying in heaven. It was nothing but utter nonsense.
Everyone sympathized with Gu Sui’er and sighed. They felt that the girl’s family shouldn’t talk about this kind of thing. However, there were some women with long-tongues(2) in the village. Due to them, almost all of the people in the town slowly came to know that Gu Sui’er from GuJia Village had lost her innocence to a stranger.
And Gu Sui’er, the one whom everyone talked about, seemed to become dumber after the incident. Although she still smiled when she saw people, those smiles did not reach her eyes. Her two eyes were still the same as before, but because of the clarity in them, the sadness in the eyes resembled a stone that fell into the pristine stream. Her inner torment was clearly visible.
This day, when Brother Shitou from the neighboring village came at last, he was taken aback by the sight of Gu Sui’er.
In fact, she had been in a trance since she was rescued. She used to get up early every morning to help her mother feed the pigs, make breakfast before cleaning the house. Now she never got until the sun was three poles high(3) in the sky. She sat on the warmer end of the kang facing the sun outside in a daze.
The Gu Sui’er at this time was haggard. Her eyes had lost their usual luster.
He reeled back a step and asked, “I want to ask you just one thing. They said you’ve been violated, is that true?”
Brother Shitou was surnamed Shi, his given name being Lei. He was the eldest of the four brothers in his family. So Gu Sui’er called him Brother Shitou(4) instead of just Brother Shi.
Brother Shitou was engaged to Gu Sui’er. Before, he had said that he would wait for Gu Sui’er to turn fifteen before marrying her.
Gu Sui’er raised her eyes slightly to look at him. When those clear eyes looked at Brother Shitou, they seemed to be very ethereal, just like the plumes of smoke rising in the village at sunset.
Brother Shitou felt desperate. He gritted his teeth so hard that they were almost crushed: “Sui’er, how can you do this to me?!”
Gu Sui’er lowered her eyes and said faintly, “Brother Shitou, you can go back now. Let’s forget about our marriage.”
As a matter of fact, Gu Sui’er hadn’t spoken for several days so her voice was hoarse.
Her little brother had been looking straight at them from the opposite room. Since that unfortunate incident, their parents had not let Gu Bao’er go to work. They had him stay back at home to take care of his sister.
Gu Bao’er suddenly rushed over and shouted at Brother Shitou: “Since you dislike my sister, just get out of here! What if my sister can’t get married! I, Gu Bao’er, will take care of her in the future! Go away, don’t show up at our door again!”
In the past few days, whenever someone bad-mouthed Gu Sui’er, her brother’s eyes turned red as if he was a bull that was about to go berserk.
Gu Bao’er knew that his sister must be uncomfortable so he wanted to stop others from making irresponsible remarks. Now, even Brother Shitou, who used to treat her well, doesn’t want his sister!
Brother Shitou’s lips moved. He wanted to say something, but Gu Sui’er had already turned around and entered the house.
When night fell, the Gu couple came back from work. After knowing that Shitou had come earlier, they jointly sighed.
Actually, they knew that Shitou was a good boy. He was also very good to their Sui’er. What’s more, the people in Shitou’s family were also decent. Shitou inherited some talent from his ancestors so he also studied for several years.
Now that Gu Sui’er suffered something like this, it was understandable if Shitou did not want to be with their Sui’er. But to understand was to understand. They felt really uncomfortable in the end.
Father Gu didn’t eat dinner and Mother Gu couldn’t stop sighing. At night, when they were going to bed, Mother Gu wiped her tears and muttered, “My poor girl! What will happen to you? How will you spend your life in the future!”
Gu Bao’er moved to his sister’s side and looked at her blank face. Finally, he clasped his sister’s hand and said, “Sister, do you remember that you always carried me when you were young?I have grown up now. From now on, I’ll carry you on my back. Others may not want sister anymore, but Bao’er wants sister. When Bao’er decides to get married, he will find a wife who is kind to sister so that sister will not be bullied.”
Gu Sui’er withdrew from her thoughts and stared at Gu Bao’er.
Gu Bao’er was dark and sturdy but he was simple. At this time, he was looking at her in utmost seriousness.
Gu Sui’er smiled reluctantly and patted her little brother’s head: “Okay…”
Her voice was so soft and weak that it was almost inaudible.
The next day, people from the Shi family of the neighboring village came to cancel the engagement. The three people who came were Shitou’s eldest Uncle, Shi FuGui, his aunt, Huang CuiHua, and his mother.
Mother Shi looked sad as she gazed at Gu Sui’er and sighed: “Sui’er is a good girl. It’s just that something like this had already happened. We are a decent family so this marriage is absolutely impossible.”
Shitou’s aunt, Huang CuiHua said: “This marriage naturally won’t happen! Sui’er is like this now. Is it possible for us to let our Shitou marry a second-hand damaged good? Besides, this girl was somewhat stupid from the beginning. She is not worthy of our Shitou.”
As soon as she said this, Father Gu’s face turned black. Gu Bao’er, who was looking out from a room, clenched his fists.
Mother Gu’s tears fell silently as she said: “Now that things are like this, we don’t have any face to continue this engagement, so we can only cancel it. We will return the bride price right away.”
When Mother Shi heard her, she hurriedly said: “You don’t have to return it. Save it for Sui’er as our compensation for suddenly cancelling the engagement.”
Upon hearing this, Gu Bao’er was already crazy with rage. He took the bride price and GengTie(5) that Brother Shitou’s family had sent before. It was nothing more than a piece of satin cloth, one piece of flower-patterned cloth, and one piece of coarse cloth.
Gu Bao’er put these in front of Mother Shi and said loudly: “This is the bride price that your family gave us. The pork, mutton, and pomegranate have already been eaten, but we will give you some cash later!”
Mother Shi actually liked Gu Sui’er very much. Her appearance was unique. She was not outdone by any girl in the village in that aspect. Now that the marriage was called off, even though she should feel relieved, she felt sorry for her in the end. So she quickly said: “You don’t have to return those things and the clothes…”
Shitou’s aunt, Huang CuiHua, who was standing on the side, hurriedly went forward and hugged the three pieces of cloth. She stuffed those clothes in the arms of her husband, Shi FuGui, and said: “Since this marriage has been canceled, it is natural to return the bride price.”
Seeing that the three pieces of cloth had arrived in Shi FuGui’s arms, Mother Shi said immediately: “Then forget about the meat and fruit.”
Nobody spoke after hearing her words. Mother Shi smiled and finally, the three of them left with three pieces of cloth.
Seeing them leave, Mother Gu couldn’t hold her tears back anymore. She sat on the kang and started crying.
Gu Sui’er sat quietly on the kang in a room at the back of the house. She stared blankly at the sun through the old paper window.
Outside, the sun looked really nice and warm.
(1) Queen Mother [王母娘娘] – This refers to the Goddess of Longevity in Chinese Mythology. It is believed that she warns about disasters and punishes evil deeds. She is also the Goddess of Creation. Later, she is also believed to be the Goddess of marriage and childbirth.
(2) Women with long-tongues [长舌妇] – This is a term used for women who enjoy gossiping about others’ business and personal lives. More like a busy body.
(3) The sun was three poles high [日上三竿] – Means that it was late into the morning. It usually describes that the sun is very high in the sky which happens at around noon.
(4) Shitou [石头] – The ‘石’ or ‘Shi’ here is his surname while the ‘头’ or ‘tou’ points to his position as the eldest or leading brother in his family.
(5) GengTie [庚帖] – This is a red card in which the name, date of birth, birthplace, the names of the three generations of ancestors etc. of the prospective bride and groom are written and exchanged for betrothal purposes.