rs ago, her parents got infected by the plague, and both died— leaving her and her only brother to depend on each other.”

“Then, she wasn’t supposed to end up like this.” Gu Qing’an raised her eyebrow.

It was understandable that in a rural area like this, food was hard to come by for the families here.

Although their parents died, their family is still rich, and yet they moved here without any relatives for no particular reason? Isn’t that a perfect cause of starvation?

The little girl was reduced to picking up garbage just to have something to eat when she at least has her older brother… Isn’t this too outrageous?

The servant boy hesitated for a moment.
He looked left and right, and after confirming that there were no people around, he lowered his voice and said, “My lady, you mustn’t tell this to anyone.
Some years ago, the county magistrate demanded the family to pay the tax deficiencies that had accumulated for many years.
The fact they were not originally from this village, they became the best target of bullying.
The village chief deliberately demanded huge contributions for the village expenses, and a lot of it went to their family.”

“All of that is to force their family to sell their fields.
However, the little girl’s big brother refused to sell it.”

The servant boy paused before adding, “To tell you the truth, the village chief is a bit too much.
On ordinary days, 30 taels per mu for 20 mu good paddy fields is not even considered expensive.
But the village chief wanted to forcibly buy it for a measly 5 taels per mu, who would be willing to sell it?”

(T/n: 1.
兩 (read as “liang” or “tael”) can be referred to as an old Chinese currency or a unit measurement for weight.
In currency, the term tael was used particularly as the trade name for the Chinese ounce of silver.

“Mu” or “Mou” is a Chinese traditional unit of measurement for area.
One mu is equivalent to 666.7 square meters, or 0.165 acre)

Gu Qing’an learned from memory that under the Dacheng ruling, a hundred households is equivalent to one village.
And among those households, several large families with more fields and more people were selected to take turns to be the village chief, who has the responsibility to collect taxes and corvée.

(T/n: “corvée” is a form of compulsory, unpaid labor demanded by a lord to his vassals.
It is an obligation imposed on inhabitants to perform services, such as repairing of roads, bridges, etc., for little or no remuneration.)

“And then?” Gu Qing’an asked.

At her question, the servant boy’s face showed a hint of fear, and answered in a soft voice, “The village chief is from a wealthy family.
He has long been in cahoots with the country clerks.
With just one stroke of his pen, he declared that the Liu family needed to provide an adult male for the corvée.
Therefore, the eldest son of the Liu family has been chosen to be one of the laborers for the river embankment reparation.”

“After that, right before the compulsory service, he sent his family servants to mercilessly beat the little girl’s brother.
The Liu family’s eldest son, who could not even get up from the ground, was forcibly carried and thrown away to the river bank.
Within two days, he disappeared.
I think he was unable to hold on after falling into the river and drowned to death.”

“The village chief insisted that the eldest son of the Liu family had escaped and swallowed up 20 mu of their family’s fertile lands in the name of escaping the corvée.
Their original home and compound were also gone, leaving the little girl with only a small mud hut at the east side of the village.”

Gu Qing’an’s face sank.
Her eyes were filled with anger.
She lashed out and asked indignantly, “And the people just stood by and did not do anything?”

“Alas, quite a few people also couldn’t stand it, but after the village chief got his hands on the land, he rented it out to the people for a cheaper price that was almost basically free.
They were all good paddy fields, and everyone was reluctant to make things awkward, so they didn’t talk much about it.”

Gu Qing’an’s expression went completely cold.


This world is really sinister.

She pondered for a moment before throwing a silver or two to the servant boy.

“In the future, when Liu Lan comes again, give her something to eat.”

At the sight of the silver, the servant boy’s eyes immediately lit up, “My lady, this servant understands.”

“Don’t think about taking the money for yourself.
I’ll come again.” Gu Qing’an coldly added.

She isn’t a saint, and she doesn’t have the desire to save everyone.
It’s too troublesome to take Liu Lan out of here, but even if Gu Qing’an doesn’t want to go through such lengths for someone who’s not even related to her, she will still help in any way she

Gu Qing’an did not give the money directly to Liu Lan for she couldn’t stay here for too long.
In such a village, giving money to a little girl would only bring harm instead.

Watching Liu Lan finish her food and timidly leave, this much is already enough.

At the thought that she had done a good deed today, Gu Qing’an smiled and sat on the bench in the inn’s hall, comfortably swinging her slender legs.

A moment later.

“Miss Gu! I’ve inquired about it!” A rush of footsteps resounded outside the inn, accompanied by Wang Zhi’s excited shout.

He came inside the inn with a torch in his hand.

“The owner of that house is Liu Lan.
It’s a little girl.”

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