Wild Goose Pass
Jade Lotus Causes a Disturbance

Jade Lotus Causes a Disturbance

Excerpt from The Water Margin, chapter 3

Read the original here.

Standing there was a girl of eighteen or so; behind her was an old man of about fifty or sixty. Both were holding wooden clappers in their hands. Although there was nothing special about the girl’s looks, there was, nevertheless, something touching in her expression.

Imagine: her hair was tied up in a pine-in-the-clouds style and fixed with a green jade hairpin. Around her willow-like waist was a red six-piece skirt made of light gauze. An old undyed blouse hid a snow-white body, light yellow socks were tucked into soft cloth slippers. Her eyebrows were knit tight, tears welling up in her eyes and falling to the floor like pearls. Her powdered face hung down, the perfumed skin melting like jade snow.

“Where are you from? Why are you crying like that?” Lu Da demanded.

“As you don’t know, sir, allow me to explain,” the girl replied. “My family is from the eastern capital. I came to Wei Prefecture with my parents to visit relatives, but little did we know they had already moved to the southern capital. While we were at a guesthouse here, my mother fell ill and died, leaving my father and I to scrape by on our own. One day, the wealthy Master Zheng, who goes by the name Lord of the West, saw me passing by and decided he wanted to take me as his concubine. He sent people to force me to agree to his proposal, and we signed a contract for three thousand strings of cash. While the contract turned out to be real, the payment was not. All he wanted was my body.

“Not even three months had passed before his wife, a truly terrible person, kicked me out of their house. Because I was unable to complete the terms of the contract, Master Zheng then asked the innkeeper to collect the three thousand strings of cash we owed him. My father is cowardly and weak; how could he argue with such a rich and powerful man? And since we never got a single copper in the first place, how could we pay him back? At first, we had no idea of what to do. Since my father had taught me popular songs when I was a child, eventually we decided to make the rounds of the wineshops, performing our music. Every day we earn a little bit of money; most of it we hand over as repayment, what’s left we save for our journey home.

“The past two days there have only been a few customers, so we’ve been unable to pay what we owe. We’re afraid that Master Zheng is going to come by and stir up some trouble. The two of us have no way to relieve our suffering, and that’s why I’ve been crying. If I have offended you, sir, please accept my sincere apologies.”

Next: Murder at Zhuangyuan Bridge Market