Chapter 120 – Cesarean
Note: Some part of this chapter is not for the faint of heart.
‘Cut through the flesh and pull out the baby?’ The wooden stick between Jing Rong’s fingers snapped into two with a crack. He frowned and asked again to make sure that he did not hear wrong. “That person inside the coffin, she’s already dead.”
It was more of a reminder than anything else. Ji Yunshu nodded to show that she understood.
Jing Rong guessed what she wanted to do after a short while and asked, “So… what do you want me to do?”
Ji Yunshu spun the thread about her finger and flashed a glance at the strangers; the coffin was being settled down, and they were expressing their thanks to Lang Po. She looked Jing Rong in the eyes and said, “I want to know when that woman passed away.”
Jing Rong assented and rose from his seat. As he walked over, Lang Po hurriedly introduced him, “This is our master.”
The person who seemed to be the leader was thoroughly soaked. He nodded in gratitude and said, “Thank you. Had it not been for your precious help, my wife’s body would have been damaged. May I ask for your name?”
“My surname is Rong.”
“Mine is Ke. I’m a merchant, and I came to Lin for commerce, but my wife suddenly fell sick and passed away. I intended to continue the trip back home tonight, but the downpour stopped us,” said the man. His tale was interrupted by several sighs of languish.
‘Merchant? You liar! Do you not know that the five peacocks feathers have already spoken for themselves, and you are still pretending? Oh, well I shouldn’t be the one pointing fingers since I also hid my own identity.’ Jing Rong asked, “Master Ke, when did your wife pass away?”
“This morning? I am sorry for your loss,” said Jing Rong with a louder voice. He did it on purpose, just so that Ji Yunshu could hear him.
Ke Cha sighed again, despite his best intentions to reign it in.
Ji Yunshu’s resolution became firmer when she heard what Jing Rong said. She rose from where she sat and approached the two. Her svelte figure, enveloped by white garments and her hair, wrapped around a simple but elegant hairpin, seemed to be enveloped in a thin layer of mist, crossing back and forth between a mirage and corporeality. Her face, hidden behind a veil, revealed enough to let the watchers guess at beautiful eyes and brows, and became quite an alluring “sight” within the derelict temple.
She stopped right in front of Ke Cha and spoke. A quiet voice emerged from the lips hidden behind the blue veiling. “Master Ke, if it won’t inconvenience you, could I have a look at the body of your wife?”
Ke Cha asked with surprise, “And you are?”
Jing Rong interrupted her, “She is my wife.”
Ji Yunshu rolled her eyes and did not bother to clarify.
Ke Cha nodded in a sign of politeness and asked, “Young Madame, why would you want to see my wife?”
She answered, “Your wife had been pregnant for eight months, I presume?”
“Master Ke, I think that your child is still alive.”
To her audience, this was too shocking. ‘Alive?’
“How… is that possible for my child to still be alive? This…”
“A fetus receives the nourishment it needs from the body of the mother, and the umbilical cord carries the blood which will feed the child. Although your wife has passed away, the child she carries will not die immediately.”1
Words like umbilical cord, that are only used after the advent of modern medicine, are obviously complete nonsense to the people of this era.
“If Master Ke will put his confidence in me, I can extract the fetus safely out of the womb.”
Ke Cha was shocked by the proposal, “Are, are you sure that my child is still alive?”
Ji Yunshu nodded and added, “The longer the child stays in the womb, the less likely survival will be. Master Ke, I leave the choice to you.”
Ke Cha rubbed his hands against one another and hesitated. But, after a moment, despite having some suspicions, he gritted his teeth and made a decision. “Okay, as long as my child is alive, do anything you need.”
He turned and ordered his followers, “Open the coffin, and bring Madame’s body out of it.”
Ke Cha was going to gamble for it. His servants followed his orders and deposited the corpse on the coffin lid.
“Wei Yi, give me the knife,” said Ji Yunshu.
Wei Yi was still thinking about the meat feast he was going to be able to eat soon. He handed the scalpel over and added, “Shu’er, is it time to eat meat?”
These words gave everyone goosebumps.
‘I swear, I’ll never joke with him like that ever again.’ Ji Yunshu was rather embarrassed, but no one could notice it thanks to the veil. She extended her hand and rubbed his head. “Go sit there and be quiet, okay? Don’t turn your head. Be a nice boy.”
“There are no whys. Just listen to me, okay? Or else we’re not going to eat meat when we get to the Capital.”
‘Oh no, I want to eat meat.’ Wei Yi covered his mouth with his hands and nodded energetically. He returned to his seat and sat down with his back facing towards Ji Yunshu. He picked up the wooden stick Jing Rong had dropped and started poking at the fire rather mindlessly.
Ji Yunshu swept across her audience and said, “Please turn around everyone, you’ll avoid… long sleepless nights.”
Everyone except Ke Cha, who stayed right next to his wife with tears in his eyes, turned their backs to the coffin and stood in a circle around it. Ji Yunshu started to remove the woman’s clothes, and she found it fortunate that she was from Huyi, since it means that her sleeves were short and would make it less difficult to undress her. The woman’s belly looked blue, and the skin was bumpy, rather than being smooth.
“Young Madame, is the child really still alive?” Ke Cha doubted Ji Yunshu a little.
She nodded. She rested one hand on the abdomen of the woman, and, with a frown, picked up the scalpel, which had been baked by the fire, with her other hand and searched for the right spot. When she found it, she inclined the blade to about halfway horizontally and pushed it down. It cut a wide gap through the flesh, and syrupy liquid slowly seeped out of the incision, soaking her pale fingers almost immediately.
She kept her head lowered and focused on her task. However, a few faint gusts of wind continued to bring her veil into her eyes. She frowned and threw it onto the ground after ripping it off. Her bloody fingers stained the fabric, conferring a twisted beauty to it. Of course, with this, it meant that her scar was left bare for everyone to see.
When Ke Cha saw the scar running down Ji Yunshu’s face, his chest tightened a little; he thought it was unfortunate, but he did not really have time to be opinionated about the beauty of the woman in front of him. His eyes remained fixated on the incision which was produced by Ji Yunshu. The latter looked at the inside and shook her head: it was not large enough. She enlarged the cut further with her knife and plunged both of her hands beneath the skin when it was done.
Her movement was gentle, and, after searching around in it for a little, left and right, she felt that her hands had reached the little human being which sat inside. She carefully closed her arms and brought the new-born out of the sack full of thick blood. She looked at the infant, who rested in her palm, and moved ever more carefully.
Ke Cha had his mouth wide open from surprise, and his lips trembled as he looked at the little “blob” of flesh with tears in his eyes. “This child… My… Child?”
Ji Yunshu was an expert at autopsy, but it was the first time she actually helped “deliver” a baby, however, there quite a few similarities between the two tasks, so she learned quickly. She cut the umbilical cord in two, hung the new-born by the ankle and lightly tapped on his buttocks. Once… Twice…
“Waaaaa–” The baby’s voice was lethargic, and the cries were weak, but at least signs of life were present.
The rest of the men turned around upon hearing the cries and saw Ji Yunshu holding the baby like a chick. When they saw the woman’s body with her abdomen cut open on the ground, some of them paled and moved their hands to their mouth in a puking gesture.
Ke Cha hurried to get hold of a piece of dry cloth and wrapped his arms around the infant. He could not hold back his tears anymore.
Grenn’s Rants Corner
That’s it for the mini-mass release. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
- Important note about the survival of an unborn child after the mother dies: The few situations where an unborn child can continue to live despite the mother’s death is when the mother is declared dead, but there are still blood circulation and oxygenation given to the fetus. In other words, a situation where the brain died, but respiratory functions are preserved and feed is given to the mother’s body, the fetus could survive, like after a car crash, stroke, etc. ↩