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126 A Disappointing Conclusion To the Fourth Miss’s Day

    Eventually, Yujia found her way back to the Yang Villa and her courtyard.

    The moment she walked back into her room, she dropped down on her bed and stared at the ceiling for a very, very long time. Hui'er seemed to notice that there was something wrong too.

    Actually, it was obvious that something was wrong. When one's young miss returned back from a brief morning trip with disheveled hair, wet clothing, and absolute silence, any maid should've been able to tell. It was just that Hui'er was thoughtful enough to not mention it upon seeing that her young miss didn't want to say anything.

    A couple long moments of pure silence passed. When Yujia had enough silence to collect herself, she turned her head to Hui'er, who was embroidering once more. "Hui'er," she spoke up, "I'm scared."

    "Scared?" Hui'er looked over. "How so? What... happened?" While she waited for Yujia's answer, she stood up and lifted an empty cup and teacup to pour a cup of steaming tea.

    Yujia lifted one of her hands and ran it through her hair, covering her eyes. "I fell into the canal. I nearly drowned."

    "What?"

    The cup in Hui'er's hand clattered to the table before she could pour any tea into it. Walking closer to her miss and sitting down on the bed with furrowed brows and wide eyes, Hui'er exclaimed, "Miss, why didn't you tell me this right away? I thought you just accidently got some water on you, or something of that sort."

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    "I wish it was as simple as that." She still didn't lift her hand from her face, but she peeked between her fingers.

    "What exactly happened?"

    Yujia could feel her heartbeat picking up again at the thought of the faces. She blinked all of them away before replying, "I... was walking by the bank after buying pastries. Then, I fell in the water. I didn't know how to swim. I went under the water, and after that, I can't remember much. Young Master Yu saved me."

    She didn't want to recall those horrifying memories to any detail. It would be better to be brief with these things.

    "Young Master Yu?" Hui'er's brows drew together even more. "As in... the first young master of the Yu Household? Or the second?"

    "First."

    "When did you know him?"

    Right. Yujia forgot that she didn't tell Hui'er too much about Yu Zixu, and if she mentioned him in the past, it was nothing more than a few vague phrases. "He goes to Lingxin too. We're barely more than acquaintances." Hui'er went silent after that, so Yujia continued, "I think from now on... I'll never be able to look at people the same again. Isn't it funny that although I almost drowned, I'm more afraid of the people who didn't bother to offer any help to me than the water itself?"

    "Miss... I still don't know the details of what happened, but I think right now, it would be good for you to just stop thinking about it. The more you think about it, the more you're going to worry yourself. From... my experience, bury away a little more of it each day until you're willing to let the matter go."

    "How is that healthy?" Finally, Yujia lifted her hands from her face. "How am I supposed to just ignore everything that's happened?"

    "If you don't let it go, then what? It's not healthy to force yourself to constantly keep it on your mind too, isn't it? Better to allow it to sink in, then vanish. Or, it won't be good to forget it completely either- just think of it like this: it's all a part of the past now. You're alive. You survived it. That's all the matters. You're living in the present; don't keep yourself intertwined with the past so much," Hui'er advised.

    Yujia didn't know why, but she couldn't hold herself back from asking, "What about you? Aren't you still intertwined with the past as well?"

    Hui'er froze. The encouraging smile on her face instantly dropped. Yujia regretted asking the question, but after a few moments, Hui'er seemed to smile again, only this time, shakily.

    "Of course I am. The process of letting these things go doesn't happen instantly. You need to give it time. And in the meantime, it's healthier to focus on other things to keep your mind busy."

    "Sorry," Yujia immediately followed up, "I shouldn't have asked that. It was insensitive of me."

    "It's fine." Hui'er paused, then looked at Yujia. "You fell in the water. It's not good to stay in those wet robes for too long. When you have strength, Miss, get up so I can help you change your robes and get you medicine."

    ...

    The rest of Yujia's day passed with Yujia getting rest. After everything that happened, her mood to celebrate and join in the festival completely vanished. All she wanted to do was sleep.

    It seemed like her day would come to a rather disappointing conclusion when the sun began to set behind the mountains. When the time for dinner came, Yujia didn't bother eating with the rest of the household either. She was too tired.

    Yujia currently sat at the sole table in her room, slowly chewing on a bite of rice. Hui'er had gone to fetch more tea from the kitchens.

    Yet when Hui'er returned, instead of holding a teapot of newly filled tea like Yujia expected, the young girl held a platter of piled pastries.

    "What's this?" Yujia looked at the platter and mustered a smile, recognizing the pastries as the red bean cakes that Hui'er was so skilled at making.

    "I'm not really talented at making any other kind of pastry," Hui'er pointed out sheepishly, "but I thought it would be wrong if I didn't do anything special for your birthday."

    Yujia looked at the plate, realizing that there were exactly nineteen cakes on the plate.

    "Happy nineteenth birthday, Miss."

    Hui'er set the pastries on the table and grinned a grin that went up to her eyes. She picked up a pastry and stuffed it into Yujia's hands. "They were a bit rushed," she continued, "but I hope that they didn't turn out bad. Try one. Tell me what you think."

    Carefully, Yujia lifted the still-warm cake to her mouth, biting into it and tasting the sweetness that dissolved on her tongue. She took another bite. And another.

    It was good. Too good.

    And for some reason- perhaps Yujia was just too moved at the simple gesture- she began to feel her eyes water. On her next bite of red bean cake, she tasted salt.

    "Miss!" Hui'er immediately noticed and blurted, "Why are you crying? Is something wrong? Do the cakes taste bad?" Her hands wrung together nervously at the side.

    "No," Yujia shook her head and answered, keeping her smile on her face. "It's delicious. The best red bean cake I've ever tasted. I'm just-" she lifted up a sleeve to wipe her tears, "- moved. Really moved. This is the most that someone had ever done for my birthday."

    "I'm glad you like it." Almost immediately, the worry on Hui'er's face was dissolved and replaced by a blossoming smile.

    There, under the soft candlelight, Yujia slowly ate as many red bean cakes as she could until she was stuffed. Hui'er had a couple too, but there were still a few left on the platter.

    As they ate through the pastries, Yujia realized that this was all she really needed: a friend to talk to, a simple gift, and a content ending to her day. Although she heard all the fun and cheer from people partaking in the festival outside, she really didn't require any complex festival or too much excitement for her birthday. A celebration as simple as the one she had this evening, with just Hui'er and her present, eating red bean cakes, would be enough.

    Like that, Yujia finished her nineteenth birthday with a soft smile on her lips.
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