The entire birthing process continued for one hour. The girl fainted a few times and was woken up again by Feng Yu Heng giving her an injection. At the critical moment, a pair of scissors cut the cervix and finally allowed the girl to successfully give birth to a girl.
The girl was very weak, but the baby was very healthy. The sounds of crying filled the air and helped to ease the tense atmosphere.
An old woman came forward and helped hold the child. Someone else also came forward to take care of the girl that had just given birth. Feng Yu Heng set up an infusion for the girl then began to explain the basis of the infusion to the people looking on in confusion.
Someone recognized her and asked: “Are you imperial daughter Ji An?”
The northern provinces too were far from the capital. In addition to Duan Mu An Guo’s deliberate planning, the people lived a very closed-off life. For the most part, the people spent their entire lives within the three provinces. At most, they would head down to Bian An County. That’s why they had very little understanding of the central region.
But there would always be people traveling around. Visiting merchants were an example. The officials that had come to celebrate Duan Mu An Guo’s birthday were also an example. Like this, divine doctor imperial daughter Ji An’s fame was spread. Although she was not as famous as Song Kang, she was still an imperial daughter. This status alone was quite overbearing.
Seeing that someone asked, Feng Yu Heng nodded, stating directly: “Indeed.” While she spoke, she did not stop moving her hands. She would occasionally take a look at the infusion device, fearing that the cold temperature would freeze the medicine.
When the people saw her admit it, they also began to rejoice. Smiling, they said to the girl that just gave birth: “You really are fortunate! To have the imperial daughter of the country personally help you give birth, this is a fortune that isn’t the result of just one lifetime of good deeds.”
The girl did not appear to be happy. Her body was weak, and she repeatedly looked toward the child, a look of attachment appearing in her eyes.
The old woman holding the child said: “It’s a very beautiful baby girl. She looks very similar to you.”
To have been selected as a concubine to enter the Winter Palace, how could she have not been pretty; however, the already ugly look on the girl’s face became a little worse. She repeatedly muttered: “Why is it a daughter? Why would it be a daughter? In the North, a daughter is the one thing that must not be born!” While saying this, she cried, “A girl will live to the age of 13 at most. After turning 13, she will have to enter that Winter Palace and suffer all kinds of humiliation. It would be better to have not given then to give birth to a daughter.”
Feng Yu Heng told her: “That won’t happen. Don’t worry, Duan Mu An Guo’s Winter Palace has already sunk. From this day forward, there won’t be anyone else to steal away girls as concubines. The girls of the future will have freedom. They will be free until the day they become of marriageable age. They can then marry the man that they love. I promise you that your daughter will definitely live very well.”
A glint of light flashed through the girl’s eyes. It was clear that Feng Yu Heng’s words allowed her to see a glimmer of hope. But the words that followed caused that hope that had suddenly risen to completely disappear.
Someone said: “Quickly, quickly take that child and burn it! Or sink it in a frozen lake. It must not be allowed to live in this world!”
These words caused everyone to freeze, but there were people that reacted very quickly, understanding what they meant, thus a majority of the people participating in the rescue efforts began to burst with energy. Covering up the earlier joy, they all shouted: “Right! Burn her! She is Duan Mu An Guo’s daughter! She must not be allowed to live in this world!”
With a mention of Duan Mu An Guo, the majority of Song Zhou’s citizens felt a hatred that reached their bones. Daughters that were not of marriageable age were sent in one by one into the Winter Palace. Though they had been exempted from paying taxes, the girls that were too young could not endure the harm done. A large number of girls were carried out as corpses less than half a year later. The families of deceased concubines of Winter Palace were no longer exempted from paying taxes, and their lives would be as difficult as in the past. They also ended up losing a daughter.
It was not all families that were filled with greed. Those that sold their daughters for a few benefits were in the minority. The vast majority did not wish for their daughters to enter the Winter Palace, but they could not stop the people from the leader’s residence coming to snatch them away. How many girls had refused to comply and killed themselves in the entrances of their homes. How many young boys watched the girl that they loved get ruined by an old man.
The hatred that everyone felt for Duan Mu An Guo was buried deep in their hearts. In the past, they did not dare express it. Now that Duan Mu An Guo had suffered a major defeat, and his Winter Palace had sunk, the people were no longer afraid with Da Shun’s soldiers also having appeared in the city. But Duan Mu An Guo had already disappeared without a trace, thus the people had no place to vent. Now that a child of Duan Mu An Guo had suddenly appeared, how could they be willing to spare her?
Someone said: “If this child lives, it will definitely want to get revenge for him.”
Another person said: “Duan Mu An Guo killed our daughter. Now, his daughter is before us. Let’s burn her to death to get revenge for our children!”
In an instant, the crowd was filled with fury. Someone even wanted to try and rush toward the old woman to snatch the baby. The old woman was given a fright and dodged behind Feng Yu Heng. The surrounding soldiers immediately lowered their spears to stop the people outside.
The crowd could not rush in, and shouting very quickly began to fill the air. Their contents were: “Burn her! Burn her!”
It was as though the baby could understand, as it began to cry louder and louder until it cried itself hoarse.
Feng Yu Heng stood in place, feeling a little helpless. She had managed to successfully deliver the child with great difficulty. This was also a person’s life. Although she had Duan Mu An Guo’s blood flowing through her, what sort of wrong did this newborn child commit? She could not watch idly while the child was burned to death.
She looked around for Xuan Tian Ming, hoping to get his attention; however, it was at this time that the hem of her clothes was gently tugged. She looked down and saw the girl that had just given birth. The girl pointed at the baby and gave her a pleading look.
Feng Yu Heng understood what she meant and immediately gestured for the old woman to bring the child to the girl. Upon receiving the child, the girl that had been extremely weak seemed to have recovered part of her strength. A smile appeared on her face, and her complexion improved.
Feng Yu Heng thought that this was what an expression of motherly love was like, right? This was the most normal reaction when a mother saw her child, right? She had experienced this sort of feeling with Yao shi before, but it had been when Yao shi was hugging Zi Rui. When it came to her, it was much more polite, as though she was dealing with a stranger.
The girl tightly held the baby, kissing it and pinching its small cheeks. She loved it to pieces. As for the baby, it was extremely lovable. It immediately stopped crying and began smiling. This caused an unbearable feeling in some of the people that had called for the baby to be burned.
Feng Yu Heng let out a faint sigh then looked up to see Xuan Tian Ming walk toward her through the crowd, thus she moved to receive him. Just as the two met up, they heard someone let out a shriek from behind. Immediately following this, the sound of everyone inhaling sharply could be heard.
She quickly turned around. With just a glance, she could not help but feel shocked. All that she saw was the girl with a cold expression. Holding the child with one hand, she firmly wrapped her other hand around the baby’s neck. She was putting in so much force that her knuckles turned white. As for the child that had been in its mother’s embrace was already out of breath. Its small face had turned blue, and its eyes were bulging out. With its mouth hanging partially open, it had a very pained look on its face.
She quickly went forward and snatch the child away; however, she immediately realized that the child had already died. A newborn baby was already extremely weak. If a grown girl forcefully strangled it, its throat would collapse and spine would break almost immediately. Feng Yu Heng stared straight at the child then looked at the girl. She had no way of reconciling that look of motherly love with her current crazed look.
Xuan Tian Ming did not want Feng Yu Heng to continue holding a dead baby, thus he immediately ordered for someone to take the baby away. With a perplexed look on her face, Feng Yu Heng repeatedly shook her head at the girl. He even heard her said to the girl: “I could have protected your child. Why bother with this?”
The girl also shook her head. Retracting her cold expression, it was replaced by one of suffering and despair. She said: “What’s the point if you can protect it? You can protect one, but can you protect ten or one hundred? There are more pregnant girls in the Winter Palace than can be counted. I even feel that Duan Mu An Guo has no clue how many children he has. Either way, girls are brought into the palace one after another, and children are born one after another. It’s just unknown how many of them are alive or dead after this disaster. You cannot raise them. There are so many children. Not to mention saving all of them, but even if you only saved half, that is still quite a few. Those are all Duan Mu An Guo’s children. They’re right. Sooner or later, it will result in a disaster. It’s better that she died. It’s better that she died.”
As the girl spoke, she began to lose her voice to the sadness. Her cries while looking at the child shook the emotions of all present.
Feng Yu Heng helplessly sighed. These concubines were all still children themselves. How could they possibly act as mothers? Marrying at a young age, this was a tragedy caused by this era.
Xuan Tian Ming had similar laments. He waved his hand and said to the soldiers: “Continue digging. Just save as many as possible.”
This rescue effort continued for three days and three nights. Guan Zhou’s prefect, Zhao Tian Qi was dug out on the second day and only had light injuries. Fu Ya’s parents were found on the morning of the third day; however, they had suffered from a lack of oxygen for too long. Even if it was Feng Yu Heng, they could not be saved.
After three days and three nights of rescue efforts, the number of people saved was not many, and not another concubine pregnant with Duan Mu An Guo’s child was found alive.
On the morning of the fourth day, Song Kang, who had been left behind in Guan Zhou, finally arrived. He arrived just in time to provide Feng Yu Heng with some assistance.
After accepting treatment from Song Kang, Zhao Tian Qi took the initiative to manage the chaotic Song Zhou. He was an official from the area. Although he had been posted in Guan Zhou for the entire time, he had been to both the capital and Song Zhou. The citizens were rather familiar with him, and their impression of him was quite good. They were quite quick to accept him.
Feng Yu Heng and Song Kang brought all of the medical officers accompanying the army and the doctors that were already in Song Zhou to begin providing treatment to the refugees. Regardless of the person’s original status, why they had been buried under the Winter Palace, or whether they were friend or foe, anyone that was dug up would be given the same treatment.
The soldiers set up tents around the area. They alternated shifts to rush down the pit to save people. The Winter Palace was large, and there were apparently 2000 people that were buried underneath. From the day it started, Xuan Tian Ming and Feng Yu Heng practically did not get to close their eyes much. Occasionally, imperial daughter Ji An could be seen sitting among the sick while nodding off. The ninth prince would go forward and carry her off to bed; however, once she touched the bed, she would immediately wake up and begin a new round of treatment without a second word.
On the seventh day, Xuan Tian Ming announced that they would stop digging. Even if they could dig up any more people, they would already be dead. It would be better to just keep them buried. As for the treasures that had been dug up from the Winter Palace, he announced that they would be divided equally to all of the citizens in the three northern provinces.
On the eighth day, all of the people that had been rescued, including the concubines of the Winter Palace, including the officials that had sought help from Duan Mu An Guo and including magistrate Lu, kneeled before Xuan Tian Ming and Feng Yu Heng and kowtowed deeply!