Chapter 288: He will take me away
The mourning hall allocated to the Li Family in the funeral parlour.
The black and white portrait of her smiling mother was placed amongst some flowers arranged into the shape of an ingot. Just as at the top of the altar was written ‘features still remain’, the old woman in the photograph remained peaceful and benevolent as she gazed kindly and emotionally at her only daughter, evoking and conveying her thoughts that still lingered…
Yet, she was already no longer able to clasp Li Wan’er hands, repeatedly telling her: Wan’er, live on properly and well. Go look for him.
Her mother’s condition had deteriorated after the surgery. The doctor had checked a few times and confirmed that she was already beyond saving.
During the final days of her life, Li Wan’er’s mother who could not have been any clearer regarding her condition had instead smiled much more than she had in the past. She had constantly tolerated the pain, consoling her only daughter with a smile on her face, even teasing her from time to time as she deliberately brought up the man who had sent her back that day.
Mother and daughter had stayed by each other’s side all day and all night, holding the other’s hands with the former adopting a jovial mood as much as possible as she consoled her weak daughter, reminding her again and again of whatever came to mind. Her heart ached as she could not bear to leave her, could not stop worrying about her…
Still, there was inevitably no way around it as they constantly had to help the other to wipe off the tears that had unconsciously flowed down and stained their face.
Every time Li Wan’er said concernedly, “Mum, you should stop talking. Get a good rest.”
Her mother would always say ‘Alright, I’ll listen to you’ before soon saying again, “Wan’er, Mum’s done resting. Mum wants to talk to you. Mum’s afraid that I won’t have the chance to next time.”
Both of them were well aware that with massive upheaval having befallen their family with their close relatives all dead, Li Wan’er who had been meticulously protected by her parents for the past thirty-one years would soon be all alone…countless people existed in this world, yet she, would just be alone.
Alone, without a roof to shelter her amidst heavy storms and howling gales in a muddy swamp where every step posed great difficulty.
Li Wan’er’s mother wanted to personally entrust her to that person.
Every time, she would mention, “Wan’er, talk to him. Ask him if he can spare some time for a visit. Mum wants to see him, wants to talk to him. Mum wants to personally hand you over to him. That way, I would be able to set my heart at ease.”
Li Wan’er’s mother’s approval regarding ‘that person’ stemmed from Li Wan’er’s previous narration of him. More than that, it stemmed from Li Wan’er’s composure and manner every time she mentioned that person. Over the past thirty-one years, she had never once seen her daughter look like this before. Therefore, she knew that her daughter had really set her mind on that person.
Every time, Li Wan’er would fake an excuse, “He’ll be coming soon. He’ll be coming very soon.”
It was in the early hours of the morning that her mother had passed away. In her final moments, she had still constantly been repeating the words, “Wan’er, go look for him.”
Clasping her mother’s hand, Li Wan’er said, “Relax, Mum. He said that he will come to take me away.”
Actually, her mother had still vaguely sensed that something was off as she had ultimately still passed with lingering worries on her mind.
It was on that night that Li Wan’er had finally called that person who had personally told her ‘we’re even’, mustering all her courage to ask him, “Can I come and look for you?”
After making that call, at that corner in an empty corridor, she had broken down and cried.
Then, she had wiped her tears away and returned before her mother who was already breathing no more, smiling as she told her, “I just called him, Mum. He said that he will come and take me away. You can rest easy now.”
After saying all this, she helped her mother to close her eyes.
The obituary notice had already long since been released. There were quite a few people who had come to the mourning hall to offer their condolences today. This consisted of relatives as well as former business partners of the Li Family.
The flower baskets and wreaths were sent in one by one.
Li Wan’er already had no tears remaining. Her face was pale as she was dressed in white mourning attire with a black cloth around her arm and a white headband around her head, staying by the side of the mourning hall as she numbly expressed her gratitude to all those who came forward to offer their condolences and pay respects to the memory of the deceased.
Her elder cousin, the daughter of her paternal uncle, was accompanying her.
However things had been before, this cousin of hers had indeed helped her out quite a bit in this time’s funeral.
It was just that from how she repeatedly feigned nonchalance, asking why Xu Tingsheng had not arrived and if and when he would be coming, Li Wan’er knew what her actual motive was.
Actually, her cousin’s thoughts were similar to that of a sizable proportion of the people who had come to offer their condolences that day.
Ever since that previous party, Xu Tingsheng had already not shown up by the side of Li Wan’er and the Li Family for too long a time. He had not appeared even when an important member of the Li Family had been grievously ill and close to dying.
As for the promised investment, there had been not a single mention of it at all thereafter.
Therefore, many people had come bearing suspicions as they intended to probe into the matter. In conversing with Li Wan’er after paying their respects to the dead, aside from offering her their condolences and saying some consoling words, virtually all of them would bring up Xu Tingsheng whether directly or in a roundabout manner. So, he should be coming, right?
Only silence answered their queries.
In truth, Li Wan’er had already long since fallen to despair. Ever since her mother had departed, ever since she had called that number, she just felt that there was no longer anything left in this world for her to cling on to, that was still worth struggling for…
If you want to expose it, do it. If you want an auction, auction whatever you want.
Li Wan’er just wanted to help to complete this funeral for her mother, peacefully sending her off.
The ancients said: Women are pretty in filial piety.
After paying his respects, Zhu Ping did not leave as he stayed outside the door and gazed fixatedly at Li Wan’er, dressed in mourning white with a pale, sad expression on her face.
Zhu Ping felt that this this frail Li Wan’er was prettier and more delicate as well as more alluring than ever he had seen her as he lusted for her more than ever before.
When consoling her earlier, Zhu Ping had tried to make use of that chance to grab her hand. In the end, Li Wan’er had quickly pulled her hand away.
However, Zhu Ping’s mind had involuntarily been shaken by just that little bit of physical contact.
He wanted this woman, wanted her so much he could go mad. Zhu Ping knew that he definitely couldn’t let this woman go now when she was at her weakest and most helpless. This was the case even though she had just lost her mother and was in mourning, even though he himself would be marrying soon and his fiancee had just gotten pregnant not long ago.
Back then, due to his pressuring of Li Wan’er and his conflict with Xu Tingsheng, Zhu Ping had been viciously rebuked after getting home by his father who understood him very well indeed. His father had repeatedly warned him to stop aggravating Li Wan’er and Xu Tingsheng too.
Zhu Ping had stopped harassing Li Wan’er for a while, albeit rather grudgingly.
Now, however, he felt that his chance had come.
There was a number of people waiting there together with Zhu Ping, having already paid their respects and exited the mourning hall. Some of them had originally intended to leave but had been persuaded by Zhu Ping to stay behind.
“With everyone all here today, we should ask Wan’er to explain things to us later. This person is nowhere to be seen and the same goes for his money. I, for one, don’t believe it,” Zhu Ping said.
“This…Old Mrs Li’s only just passed away and we’re pressuring her only daughter at her funeral…if word of this spreads, wouldn’t others say that we are heartless, and…”
“It’s precisely when she’s still here now that we have to ask her. If we wait, she might suddenly take off and no one would be able to find her. At that time, we would have been taken as fools and been made a total mockery of. Rather than that, we might as well be heartless for a bit. It looks like that Xu Tingsheng definitely won’t be coming. Don’t you want your money anymore?”
With his talk of money, Zhu Ping successfully persuaded the vast majority of them.
Li Wan’er’s cousin gave her a reminder.
As Li Wan’er looked up and saw that bunch of people outside the mourning hall, she felt greatly melancholic.
She was aware of what was going to happen in a while. Still, this being something that she had already given up on in the first place, it actually did not bring her all that much fear and sorrow.
Her heart only truly ached because of that person. She did not know how he could be this cold-hearted, not even coming to see her at a time like this, just allowing her to, all alone…
“But what does he owe me anyway? How is he obliged to do anything for me? He said that we’re already even…even…even…”
Just as the word ‘even’ was reverberating unceasingly within Li Wan’er’s mind.
A woman in a black professional suit walked into the mourning hall.
She was followed by two black-clothed men carrying a wreath.
After setting down the wreath and bowing deeply, the woman who seemed extremely capable and experienced at first glance took a white chrysanthemum and placed it respectfully before the portrait of the deceased.
Then, she walked over to Li Wan’er and said, “My condolences.”
“Thank you,” Li Wan’er looked up at her, asking softly, “And you are?”
There were actually quite a few unfamiliar faces that had turned up in the mourning hall today. Most of the time, Li Wan’er would politely ask about them and mentally take note of who they were. She remembered all the people who had come today: The daughter of her father’s old war buddy, an old employee of their factory…
It seemed that only these people were truly sincere in offering their condolences.
Outside the mourning hall, someone put a hand on Zhu Ping’s shoulder and asked the others, “Did you guys see the wreath that was just carried in?”
“What good are wreaths to look at? The place is full of them,” Zhu Ping said, “Hey, should we wait a little longer or is it about time that we went in? We’ve got to get things settled anyhow.”
He could already hold himself back no longer.
“It’s not that,” That person continued, “I just happened to catch a glimpse of it just now. That wreath’s sender seems to be, seems to be…that Xu Tingsheng.”
“Where is he?”
Enthusiasm overwhelmed the group as they now started tiptoeing frantically, trying to catch a glimpse inside.
“Hey, it really is him! The outermost one on the right…I see it, it really is written Xu Tingsheng!”
Inside the mourning hall, Li Wan’er’s cousin grabbed her sleeve and pulled her over, pointing towards the wreath which had just been set down, “Wan’er, look. See, it’s him, Xu Tingsheng!”
Looking where her cousin was pointing, Li Wan’er saw that name on the elegiac couplet at the wreath’s bottom corner. Her originally upright upper body immediately stumbled as her weight fell upon her ankles and she teetered momentarily.
Without any support, she had soldiered on. Yet, as soon as that name appeared, weakness instantly overtook her as a sense of tearful grievance just surged to the surface.
“So, in the end, he still couldn’t help but be worried about me?”
“So, this woman here is?”
Wu Tong had been rather unwilling to handle this. After Xu Tingsheng had entrusted her with this matter, she had investigated about it within Shenghai itself and chosen this day to appear.
Seeing Li Wan’er for the first time, Wu Tong’s first thought was, “This woman truly is…so beautiful…this, even one in ten thousand wouldn’t be enough to describe it. Even Lu Zhixin lacks some flavour and delicateness as compared to her. And she just happens to possess a frailty that causes one’s heart to twinge…it’s no wonder that Boss…”
Even as a woman herself, Wu Tong felt rather overwhelmed by it.
Her next thought was, “Considering Boss’s age…isn’t she a bit old? So Boss is into…no way…”
Wu Tong herself was in her thirties as well, being even older than Li Wan’er. Really, god forbid.
Wu Tong calmed herself before speaking more loudly, “Hello, I’m Wu Tong, Hucheng’s Director currently stationed in Shenghai. Sorry, but Boss Xu is really unable to make time this couple of days. He asked me to help him express his condolences and hopes that Miss Li Wan’er will be able to get over her grief and take good care of her body.”
Everyone outside pricked up their ears.
“Thank you,” Li Wan’er barely managed to keep herself from sounding like she was crying.
“Aside from that, Boss Xu also requested me to act as Hucheng’s representative for the Li Family’s factory. I’m sorry, but even though Miss Li must be grieving right now, I still need to understand the factory’s current situation. If it’s confirmed that there aren’t any problems, the first investment sum will immediately come in.”
“Boss Xu said that business is business and separate from personal affairs. Hucheng still has other shareholders and it is still necessary to go through the usual procedures. He hopes that Miss Li can understand this.”
“At the same time, as our side’s representative in our cooperation, I will be staying here for the time being to participate in the management of the factory for the short term and assist Miss Li in resuming production. I hope that Miss Li will not mind this.”
Having conveyed all that Xu Tingsheng had asked her to say, Wu Tong shot Li Wan’er a look to warn her against letting her overflowing emotions show.
Sorrow, gratitude, surprise, puzzlement…you can’t show any of it at all.
Li Wan’er tried her best to suppress her emotions, playing along, “No, I understand. How would I mind this? I’ll be troubling Director Wu after this.”
Wu Tong nodded, conversing with Li Wan’er in hushed tones for a bit before exiting the hall. There, she deliberately halted for a moment, waiting for the group outside to bombard her with questions. With how important this matter was, it was really impossible to expect that they would believe her as easily as that.
However, unlike Li Wan’er, Wu Tong was an corporate veteran who had started out in the middle echelons of a major corporation. She had a certain aura about her, also possessing substantial experience from her many years of work…
Therefore, dealing with these people was virtually effortless for her. Whatever they asked her, she was able to answer it appropriately as her words were logically sound, without any flaws whatsoever.
This was also the reason that Xu Tingsheng had previously chosen to look for her for help.
“Hucheng’s representative is here, and you can tell with a single glance that she’s from the higher management of a big company. Also, why did Xu Tingsheng dispatch a woman over?”
Some of them helped better the explanation in their own minds, “How would Xu Tingsheng possibly allow a man to come and assist his woman?”
With that, they were virtually certain about the relationship between Xu Tingsheng and Li Wan’er.
With even a representative from Hucheng having officially been stationed here, things were such that it was impossible even for Zhu Ping to doubt anything.
Seeing the others dispersing with smiles on their faces, Zhu Ping looked back and shot several vicious glares in Li Wan’er’s direction before helplessly suppressing his still burning desires as he left very unwillingly along with the rest.
Seeing that the crowd had dispersed, Wu Tong turned and walked back over. Li Wan’er found an excuse and shook off her overjoyed cousin beside her.
The two went around to the back of the mourning hall.
Wu Tong carefully appraised this woman before her once more and again sighed inwardly in admiration before she said in a calm, respectful tone, “Boss Xu knows that you won’t be able to manage what he taught you, so he asked me over here to help you, helping you to manage your assets to ensure your life thereafter as is possible without breaking the law. Therefore, you can trust me. Just leave this all to me.”
Hearing Wu Tong’s words, Li Tong felt a little despondent. Still, she was not a greedy person as she quickly calmed, asking Wu Tong rather worriedly, “Umm, will this affect Hucheng negatively in the long run?”
“There was no contract, no agreement. There was an intention to invest but things ultimately fell through in the end…that’s how it is. It’s perfectly normal, it happens every day,” The experienced Wu Tong explained.
“I understand,” Li Wan’er hesitated for a bit before continuing, “Then, he…”
“Boss Xu says that he will be going overseas in a while. He will first be flying to Italy. He said that if Miss Li needs it, he can send you there and see if he can be of any help in getting you settled down since it’s convenient and on the way.”
Wu Tong actually felt a little uncomfortable as she was relaying this. If it’s sending her overseas to be upkept, it’s sending her overseas to be upkept! What was the point in needlessly trying to hide things like this…
Wu Tong did not understand Xu Tingsheng’s intentions. Actually, Li Wan’er did not fully understand them herself. Still, there was at least one thing she was sure of. He had not abandoned her and stopped caring about her. They…would be meeting again.
After coming to grasp the general situation at hand, Wu Tong agreed with Li Wan’er on a time to meet again before she left.
Li Wan’er walked over to the portrait of her deceased mother, placing a white chrysanthemum before it before saying softly, “Did you hear that, Mum? He didn’t abandon me and stop caring about me. He said that he will take me away. You can properly rest assured now.”