This story happened in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi during the Yongzheng period, and it is dedicated to the old cousins in Jiangxi.
It is a sunny spring. Jingdezhen, the porcelain capital in the south of the Yangtze River, has just finished the Spring Festival. The handicraftsmen have started a new year of busy life.
Just after noon, a fat horse suddenly flew by from the east of the city, and immediately sat an old eunuch with a high-spirited look.
As soon as the old lady got off the horse, she didn’t bother to drink tea, so she shouted in a strange voice: “The imperial decree has arrived, Liu Qiufeng, the owner of Jingdezhen official kiln, accepts the decree!”
As a result, a group of unrelated artists also knelt down on the ground in unison, waiting to lead the old eunuch to read the emperor’s imperial edict.
“By God’s blessing, the emperor said, I dreamed last night that my beloved concubine who died eight years ago entrusted me with a dream, and asked me to burn a blue and white porcelain jade pot and treasure tripod to present in front of her tomb. Now I order you to burn it within three months. Done, otherwise you will be the only one to ask, this is it!”
“Long live my emperor, long live, long live!” A group of ordinary people who were kneeling on the ground stood up with relief, and then began to busy themselves with the work at hand.
After the old eunuch rode away on the horse, Liu Qiufeng, the owner of the official kiln in Jingdezhen, stood up with a pale complexion, and then heaved a long sigh.
“Father, why are you sighing?” Liu Qiufeng’s youngest son, Xiao Le, asked.
“Son, you don’t know something,” Liu Qiufeng said, “Three months are enough for this jade pot and treasure tripod. The emperor is obviously a layman, but now he played a big joke on us, like a jade pot treasure tripod.” How can fine porcelain like a tripod be done without burning it for half a year? If the time is not enough, it is still a defective product! It’s not clear that this is something that will kill us!”
“Father, is there really no way to save us?” Xiao Le said, “Why don’t we pack our bags now and escape to a place where no one knows us and live in seclusion?”
“Escape? The whole world belongs to the emperor,” Liu Qiufeng said, “Where can we escape to? Even if we reach the ends of the earth, we will be arrested!”
“Then what should we do, Dad?” Xiao Le was very anxious after all because he was young, “Could it be that we can only wait here to die?”
“It can’t be said that there is no solution,” Liu Qiufeng thought for a while and said, “It’s just that this is too unrealistic. Hey, I think it’s better to let it go!”
“Father, you didn’t even say what the solution is, so how do you know it must be unrealistic?” Xiao Le asked, “Try it out, maybe it will work?”
“Although it’s not practical, it’s okay to tell you,” Liu Qiufeng sighed, “There is no way to speed up the pace of kiln firing and reduce intermediate links, that is—”
When talking about this, Liu Qiufeng paused on purpose, as if trying to trick her.
“Father, tell me quickly, I’m almost dying of anxiety!” Xiao Le’s heart was really trembling.
“That is – we must find a suitable kiln woman,” Liu Qiufeng said, twirling his beard, “this woman’s requirements are very high, she must be born in a cloudy year, when the moon is cloudy and the sun is cloudy. It’s hard to find one, and even if they managed to find one, how could their parents be willing to hand her over to us? That’s why I say that this method is not realistic at all.”
“Father, don’t be discouraged,” Xiao Le comforted his father and said, “I really want to really remember such a woman in our area, she is Qiqi, the daughter of Old Man Liu who sells tofu in Liushu Village!”
“Qiqi was really born in a cloudy year?” Liu Qiufeng suddenly had a glimmer of hope in his heart, “Xiao Le, did you remember correctly?”
“No, I remember correctly,” Xiao Le’s excitement suddenly disappeared again, “Father, hey, in fact, what I said is still meaningless, but it’s a pity that Qiqi just died last night.”
“She’s dead? Hey, what a pity!” Liu Qiufeng almost slapped her thigh swollen, and the expression on her face returned to that of an eggplant beaten by frost.
This sacrificial official kiln needs to use a young girl, and it must be a living person. This is a well-known attempt. Now that Qiqi is dead, it is meaningless to say all this.
“However, Dad—” Xiao Le suddenly seemed to remember something, “Qi Qi just passed away last night, maybe we still have remedial measures.”
“Then what do you mean?” Liu Qiufeng asked in bewilderment.
“Father, I remember that Qiqi was a playful and temperless girl before she was alive,” Xiaole recalled, “She just left last night, maybe she is also walking and stubborn this time, maybe she hasn’t reached the goal yet. It’s hard to say about Yan Luodian…”
“Father, let’s try our luck at the Sea Witch,” Xiao Le said, “Maybe she has a way, but it’s hard to say…”
Sea Witch is a priest with deep knowledge in the town. On weekdays, the villagers would go to her for weddings and weddings, and almost no major mistakes were made, and everything was done very steadily.
“Hey, it seems that’s the only way.” Liu Qiufeng’s helplessness is obvious. Besides this way, is there any other choice now?
Is it true that the whole family will die with him? No, Liu Qiufeng heard that those who offended the emperor would be implicated in the nine clans, so it would be fine if he died, and it would be too sorry for him to implicate other relatives and friends.
The father and son came to the sea witch’s house together. After a few simple greetings, the father and son began to enter the topic.
“Grandma Hai, you must help us,” Xiao Le begged, “The person we offended this time is the current emperor, if the jade pot and treasure tripod cannot be called out in three months, the emperor It will be blamed, maybe we will kill all the common people in Jingdezhen!”
Xiao Le’s last sentence was intended to scare the sea witch, because no matter how stupid the emperor was, it was impossible to initiate such a big killing ring. How many people should there be in Jingdezhen? How could so many people be implicated? What’s more, Emperor Yongzheng was still a reasonable king.
“Xiao Le, don’t worry, let Grandma Hai see—”
After finishing speaking, the sea witch covered her forehead with one hand, as if she was looking at something far away in the sky.
“Good news, Xiao Le,” the sea witch suddenly yelled, “Grandma Hai took a closer look with her magic power, and that silly girl Qiqi was really playful, and she was still watching the scenery by the Naihe bridge alone.” !”
“Then Grandma Hai means that we can go over and bring Qiqi back now?” Xiao Le’s excitement was obvious, and Liu Qiufeng who was standing beside him also seemed very excited.
“Well, Grandma Hai still has this ability,” Sea Witch said confidently, “It’s not too late, let’s set off now and bring Qiqi back!”
“Us?” Xiao Le looked very surprised, “Grandma Hai, do you mean that the three of us will go there together? But, my father and I don’t know magic!”
“I didn’t say to take your father there with me,” said the sea witch, “I just said to take you there with me. You haven’t touched a woman yet, and you can come back after going to the underworld. Your father can’t do it.”
After finishing speaking, Hai Wuba smiled at Liu Qiufeng with a half-smile.
“I, I’m fine, you, you just go…” Liu Qiufeng stammered.
“Xiao Le, close your eyes quickly,” Sea Witch ordered Xiao Le, “Grandma Hai will take you out now.”
So Xiao Le closed her eyes, and waited to take the sea witch to take herself into the strange and mysterious place in the legend.
Suddenly, as if being lifted up by a buoyant buoyancy, Xiao Le really felt that he was about to fly.
When the sea witch held his hand and stopped, his eyes really lit up: he felt that he had come to a place he had never been to before.
This is the legendary Naihe Bridge.
This place is not much different from the vicinity of bridges in the human world, and even some of the scenery is very pleasant, which is not found in the world.
But Xiao Le is not in the mood to look at the scenery today, he only cares about where Qiqi is.
After searching around carefully, she still couldn’t find Qiqi’s shadow. Xiao Le suspected that her eyesight was not working well, so she couldn’t see.
“Hey, isn’t this Qiqi?” Sea Witch suddenly pointed to a jujube tree and said, “Qiqi, why are you hiding here? Don’t be afraid, come to us…”
“It turned out to be the sea… the sea… the witch… and grandma.” Qiqi originally wanted to say the sea witch, but immediately changed her words, “I thought who it was, it turned out to be an acquaintance, then I will Don’t be afraid.”
Qiqi then jumped out from behind the jujube tree, then pointed to Xiaole and said, “Hey, isn’t this brother Xiaole, brother Xiaole, I always thought you were so handsome, hehe, you used to be so handsome. Dare to talk to you, I always feel that you are superior, but I didn’t expect to finally talk to you here.”
But Xiao Le didn’t get close to her, he only cared about how to bring Qiqi back to the kiln as soon as possible, so as to save the lives of his family.
Although this is a bit cruel to Qiqi and her family and her family, Qiqi is already a dead person. Pulling her back to the world can make her live a few more days. Qiqi’s family should thank themselves for doing this. Yes.
“Qiqi, Grandma Hai wants to take you back to Yangjian, do you want to go back?” Sea witch asked tentatively, she thought that Qiqi would definitely agree to go back with her without hesitation.
“I don’t want to,” unexpectedly Qiqi shook her head vigorously and said, “The scenery here is so beautiful, I haven’t had enough fun here, how can I be willing to leave!”
“You are such a silly girl,” said the Sea Witch again, “don’t you want to go back and see your parents?”
“I don’t want to,” Qiqi shook her head again and said, “They all thought I was dead, if I ran back now, wouldn’t they be frightened?”
Seeing that Qiqi refused to agree to life and death, Xiaole finally became impatient, so she said, “But, Qiqi, you knitted a sweater for your father before you died, and the sweater was still a few stitches away, so you You left in a hurry, don’t you want to go home and help your dad get the few stitches left?”
“It’s okay, my mother will make it up for him,” Qiqi was still uninterested in this, “Brother Xiaole, look how beautiful the scenery here is, why would I just leave like this? Look at the scene under the Naihe Bridge.” That little turtle is so pitiful, I really want to accompany it to find its mother, Brother Xiaole, would you like to accompany me to watch the scenery together…”
Xiao Le is really going to be pissed off by her. If she doesn’t leave, she will plan to rob someone. After all, the emperor only gave her home for three months, and every day she has to race against the clock to catch up with the progress without the slightest delay. .
“Qiqi,” Xiao Le’s face pulled the old elder long, “Maybe your parents are waiting for you at home, can you stop being so naughty?”
“It’s fine if you want me to go back,” Qiqi suddenly walked up to Xiao Le and said mischievously, “Unless you promise me one thing.”
“Okay, Qiqi, don’t say one thing, I’m willing to do ten or one hundred!” Seeing that Qiqi finally let go, Xiao Le was naturally very happy, so she agreed without saying a word.
“You didn’t even hear what I said, so you agreed first?” Qiqi still asked her naughty nature.
“It’s okay, Qiqi, as long as you can say it, I will definitely promise you.” Xiaole thought to herself, even if Qiqi said something that she couldn’t do later, she might as well lie to her temporarily, first put Take it back to your own home and talk about it.
“Okay, brother Xiaole,” Qiqi blinked her big watery eyes, “Actually, I have always liked you, but I was shy back then, so I am embarrassed to say it, if you can agree to come back Marry me as your wife when you get home, and I promise to go with you.”
“Being a wife?” Xiao Le was a little embarrassed. He really didn’t expect Qiqi to like him all the time. It stands to reason that Qiqi is also good-looking, and it would not hurt him to marry her home, but Qiqi’s is used to sacrifice From the official kiln, her lifespan is destined to be only three months, how can I marry such a woman as my wife? This is neither appropriate nor auspicious!
Seeing that Xiao Le didn’t agree, Qi Qi pouted her mouth and complained, “Forget it, pretend I didn’t say it, brother Xiao Le, don’t be angry.”
“No, Qiqi, I promise you,” Xiao Le suddenly remembered that the lives of the whole family are more important, so why not lie to her first, “As long as you come home with me, I will marry you as my wife.”
“It’s great, it’s great, it’s really great,” Qiqi clapped her little hands, “Then Hai, Hai, Grandma Hai, take us back now!”
“Okay, close your eyes!” The sea witch ordered the two of them.
After a while, Xiao Le’s body once again felt as light as a fairy, and when he landed on the ground, he found that he had returned home.
“Brother Xiaole, why don’t we get married tonight!” Qiqi asked innocently, not knowing that she was in great trouble.
“Qiqi, don’t be so anxious about this matter, let’s talk about it later.” Xiao Le knew that this was just an excuse, because his father said that it would be an auspicious day in three days, and Qiqi had to be killed in the kiln, otherwise he would miss it. It’s too late when the time is right.
“Okay,” Qiqi seemed a little unhappy, but she still said, “My mother said that girls should not take the initiative too much, otherwise people in the husband’s family will look down on them…”
“Well, Qiqi, don’t go out in this room first, I will bring you food in.” Although Xiao Le said to her like this, but he knew that he put Qiqi in this room, in fact She is under house arrest.
“Wait a minute, brother Xiaole,” Qiqi suddenly stopped him, “Excuse me, can I hug you?”
“Forget it, let’s talk about it when we get married. Didn’t your mother tell you that girls shouldn’t be so proactive?” Xiaole now only cares about killing Qiqi as soon as possible. He is too lazy to care about a so-called love.
“Oh, yes,” Qiqi replied resentfully, “but, brother Xiaole, can you chat with me for a while? I really have a lot to say to you. I remember the first time I saw you When I saw you, I was deeply attracted by you. You look so pretty when you walk, you look so pretty when you sit on a stool, you look so pretty when you smile, and you’re just as pretty when you’re not smiling…”
Seeing her crazy appearance, Xiao Le was a little indifferent, so she said, “Qiqi, we still have a lot of time together in the future, you should rest for a while, you are already very tired…”
“No, brother Xiaole—” Qiqi tugged at the corner of his clothes, “Don’t go, do I just make you hate me so much?”
After finishing speaking, Qiqi cried with a headache, “You are a liar, a liar, you must not like me, you must have other girls in your heart…”
After finishing speaking, Qiqi waved her fists on Xiaole’s body again, looking lovely and pitiful like that.
Xiao Le’s heart was moved and regretted a little. It seems that this girl is sincere in liking her, and she is such a pure, kind, and innocent girl.
Qiqi was right when she said that she was a liar, Xiaole thought to herself, she was the one who was sorry for her first, and she was the one who tricked her here.
But at the same time, a voice deep in his heart said to him that he must never sympathize with this girl. She is a simple sacrificial object, and sympathy is a very terrible thing. Heart, it may have unimaginable consequences.
“Brother Xiaole,” Qiqi suddenly stopped crying, “Can I go home and see my parents? The sweater I knit for my father last time, there are still a few stitches left, I’ll go back and make it for you.” Let him make it up, the weather is quite cold now, I’m afraid my father will catch cold…”
When Qiqi said this, she was indeed very emotional and very pitiful. She should be a filial daughter. Now that she has come back, it is not too much to go to see her parents.
But Xiao Le was not moved by her true feelings. He couldn’t ruin the overall situation of his family because of this, so he still tied his face and said, “Didn’t you just say that your mother would sew it up for you? What are you going back for, aren’t you afraid to frighten them?”
“Now think about it, don’t be afraid,” Qiqi said again, “because they are my parents after all, if they know that I am alive again, how happy they will be! No, Brother Xiaole, I have to go now Tell them the good news!”
After finishing speaking, Qiqi wanted to rush out of the room, struggling to rush home.
Seeing her so pissed off, Xiao Le really didn’t know whether he should stop her or not. He knew that it would not be easy for Qiqi. If he had to block her, Qiqi would definitely not be able to escape. However, once Qiqi is allowed to escape home, her parents will definitely not allow Qiqi, who has finally survived, to play the role of a priest in the official kiln. At that time, it will be difficult to get her back.
But the strange thing is that when Qiqi was about to rush out of the room, Xiaole didn’t follow her to hold her back. Maybe it’s because I feel pity for her in my heart, or maybe it’s other feelings, but Xiaole is sure that it’s not love, he didn’t fall in love with Qiqi who will die in three days.
Just when Qiqi thought that she could go home to see her parents after she was done, a tall figure suddenly rushed in outside the door, dragging her back.
It was Xiao Le’s father who came in.
Xiao Le’s father was tall and burly, and the weak Qiqi was held by him like a chicken, and she couldn’t even show a little struggle.
“We can’t let her go, we can’t live without her!” Xiao Le’s father said expressionlessly.
“Why can’t you let me go?” Qiqi felt very scared and very curious, “Why can’t you live if I leave? Brother Xiaole, do you have any secrets from me?”
“It’s okay to tell you the truth,” Xiao Le’s father said bluntly, “Yes, we lied to you, because we have to take you to the kiln in three days, that is to say, you have to die again in three days. !”
“Why, why did this happen?” Qiqi, who had been lingering by the Naihe Bridge just now and was not allowed to go home when she heard the word “death”, now burst into tears, “Brother Xiaole, you have been hiding it from me all this time.” Right? Why did you do this, since you brought me back, you didn’t allow me to go home to meet my parents…”
“Cry, I’ll make you cry,” Xiao Le’s father said ferociously, “Our family hates people who cry the most. By the way, Xiao Le, we must dig out her eyeballs to prevent her from crying It will ruin our big business.”
“Eyes? Why do you want to goug my eyes?” Kiki became more fussy, “I would rather die than let you goug my eyes…”
“Because you are not allowed to shed tears when offering sacrifices to the official kiln,” Xiao Le’s father said, “The temperature in the official kiln is extremely high. If you shed a tear, it will cause a huge temperature difference in the kiln. As a result, the official kiln exploded!”
“Nonsense, you guys are talking nonsense,” Qiqi cried even harder, “don’t you cry yourself? If you accidentally shed a few tears in front of the kiln, wouldn’t it make the official kiln explode? ?”
“Our ancestors have been engaged in this industry for generations, and the function of crying has long been degraded,” said Xiao Le’s father, “so we are all people without tears, so don’t try to win our sympathy by pretending to be pitiful. Men don’t even have tears! You just die of this heart!”
“I don’t believe it, I just don’t believe it,” Qiqi cried again, “How can a normal person have no tears, Brother Xiaole, even if your father has no tears, I don’t believe you don’t either, you must save me Ah, I don’t want to die again, I want to go home and see my parents.”
Qiqi’s miserable words almost made Xiao Le a little sad, but he knew that he had no tears since he was born, so he made up his mind and tried not to listen to what she was saying.
“I told you to stop dreaming,” Xiao Le’s father said again, “The men in our family are all hard-hearted, and they won’t be sad for such a small matter of love between children, so you should die of this heart! “
After finishing speaking, Xiao Le’s father took out a knife and stabbed Qiqi’s eyes fiercely.
With an extremely tragic cry, Qiqi’s eyes were completely blinded.
When Qiqi was screaming, Xiaole wanted to persuade his father to let go, but in the end he suppressed it in his heart and didn’t say anything.
After digging out Qiqi’s eyes, Xiao Le’s father locked the door of the room, and even fed Qiqi’s eyes on the ground to the dogs.
In the next three days, Xiao Le actually felt impulsive. He wanted to sneak away to rescue Qiqi. After all, it was him who caused this woman to fall into this state—he and her His father suggested that Qiqi was born in a cloudy year, and it was he who suggested to his father to invite the sea witch, and he was the one who tricked Qiqi back by the Naihe bridge. He didn’t have any feelings for this woman. Her feelings made her mistakenly think that she could be her own bride.
But he still didn’t take this step after all, because he would still think of the value of this woman to his whole family, and he didn’t forget his father’s teaching to him: “My child, if you want to become an excellent kiln expert, you must Absolutely no tears, especially no tears for women, this is a taboo for people in our industry!”
The three days came soon, Xiao Le’s father did not allow anyone to deliver food to Qiqi these days, saying that the girl must be starved for a few days, so that the intestines can be cleaned and detoxified, and it is also a kindness to the gods. kind of respect.
Qiqi was almost forcibly dragged into the official kiln by Xiaole’s father and several brothers.
This day is indeed an auspicious day, Xiao Le has to admire his father’s ability to choose a date.
Because on this clear day, a round of high-hanging sun shone in the sky, Xiaoyangchun was so warm that people almost forgot that they were still in the early spring days.
When sacrificing to the official kiln, everyone is most afraid of rainy days, because once the human body or the sacrificial girl is contaminated with any moisture, it is a huge risk.
Qiqi was forcibly changed into a new set of clothes, and then carefully dressed up. Although she lost her eyes, Qiqi still looked very beautiful after washing and dressing up.
It’s a pity that she couldn’t be happy in her heart, and she had a gloomy expression on her face.
Although after these few days, Qiqi has become numb to the point where she is too lazy to resist and complain, but Xiaole can imagine that she must have hatred in her heart. She must hate herself for cheating him, and also hate her whole family. Selfish and unfeeling.
The family had already brought Qiqi to the front of the official kiln. After the raging fire was lit, the sealed room quickly became a big steamer.
But Xiao Le’s family didn’t sweat, because they have been doing this business for generations, and they have degenerated all their sweat glands.
Qiqi didn’t sweat either, because Xiaole’s father tied a lot of ice cubes to her body, and he didn’t want Qiqi to ruin his event by sweating.
When Xiaole’s father and his brothers lifted Qiqi up and were about to throw it into the kiln, Qiqi suddenly turned her head slowly and asked Xiaole: “Brother Xiaole, I have never died before.” Once, so I am not afraid anymore, I just want to ask you a word, have you really never loved me?”
Xiao Le didn’t make a sound, because he didn’t know how to answer this question.
He should have never loved her. If this question was placed a few days ago, he would definitely be able to answer it so easily, but today his mood is very complicated. There was only a little bit of love, yes, only a little bit, because the men in their family were repeatedly warned not to feel sad for women.
Qiqi was finally thrown into the high-temperature kiln, and she died without any struggle or resistance.
Just when Qiqi was reduced to ashes and everyone thought they were done, suddenly there was a loud “bang” in the kiln, and the huge official kiln exploded and was completely scrapped on the first day it was just built.
Including all members of the sealed furnace chamber.
Because there was a person in this room who couldn’t help but shed a tear, it was Xiao Le.
His lacrimal glands have not completely degenerated, and there is still the last tear in his body. When Qiqi was thrown into the kiln, the only tear in his body finally couldn’t bear it anymore and flowed out hopelessly .