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The sun sat in the west and gently shrouded the old and ruined village of Shenmeigou in darkness.
Suddenly, the rapid pounding of a gong broke the evening’s tranquility, making the villagers who were preparing their dinner, run out their doors and rush to the village entrance.
Something happened, something big must have happened.
Is someone's wife dead? Did someone go into the mountains to hunt wild boars with a bow? Or could it be that government officials came to conscript men from the village?
The villagers, overcome by a restless and anxious atmosphere, went to the village's entrance, where they found, under a locust tree that had been dead for many years, a man with a tied up pretty woman.
“I saw her ragged clothes, messy hair and panic stricken paper pale face. She speaks, but in unintelligible words.”
All of a sudden, the crowd erupted in an uproar.
"Isn't that the woman the Li family's Dalang bought a couple of days ago? How did she end up like that?", someone who quickly recognized the tied up woman shouted.
"Don't you know? This lady went outside and secretly ran away last night! At last, she was caught by someone in the neighboring village."
"Ha, this woman is courting death!"
"Who said she wasn't? We are all poor here, since you came here you have to accept your own fate! I mean, could she really successfully run away? The girl that Wu San bought last year. She also escaped in the middle of the night and was also captured and brought back. As soon as she entered the village she was beaten to death by the Wu brothers."
"Such a young woman, to be beaten to death…"
"Spoiling such a good face in vain… Look at that flawless skin…"
Li Man looked at the dense crowd, full of unspeakable fear, but she could not figure out the situation she was now in. Wasn't she killed by a car? How can she be tied up here? Who are these people pointing at her?
She desperately shouted for help, asking the villagers to untie her. However, n.o.body understood what she said. And so, they continued to crowd around her, speaking words she couldn't understand.
She didn't get what they were saying, but, judging from their tone and expressions, it surely wasn’t words of praise.
"Hey, look, the woman woke up, she’s really pretty, yeah?"
"Such uselessness is unimportant! Any woman who dares to leave my Shenmeigou Village have only one way to escape, death!"
Suddenly, a warty and fat woman grabbed rotten vegetables from a basket that she was going to use to feed the pigs, and smashed them on Li Man's face.
It was terrible. The other village women followed suit: they spat on Li Man and picked up small stones to throw at her. There were even two bold women who simply walked up to her and maliciously pinched her skin.
"Stop! Go away! Who are you guys!? Let me go right now!", cried Li Man, her body's pain far lesser than the fear in her heart. This was a group of uncivilized villagers. Their clothing was ancient, they look a lot like the people from ancient times in the historical dramas she’s seen.
At this time, an old man came over. He had a bit of dignity in his countenance and drove away several women: "What’s happening over here? Get out of the way!"
"Chief, we too are unbearably angry! Such a woman deserves a lesson! Right, should we hang her or should we sink her in the pond?" Several women gathered around the village chief and asked in high spirits.
The village chief grumpily looked at the several women present "All of you, leave at once! This matter regards the Li household and should be handled by them." He then turned his head to ask the brawny man behind him "Wu San, what about Li Moren? You were ordered to go call him, how come half a day later I don't see even the trace of his shadow?"
Wu San smiled cheekily while his eyes lewdly stared at Li Man "A few of the Li brothers went to the mountains to look for this woman, they left the youngest alone at home, so I left a message with him. They’ll come over as soon as they return."
The village chief frowned and looked at the sky. It was getting dark. He once again turned his face to look at Li Man. His face was filled with contempt.
From the women's att.i.tude just now, Li Man estimated that this old man must be the village chief. She hurriedly shouted "Uncle, please let me go! Let's talk a little, OK!? I don't know how I have offended you, but as long as you let me go, we can discuss it properly, I can give you money as compensation…."
"What is she mumbling?", The village chief turned his head in disgust and asked Wu San.
Wu San also couldn't understand it and only shook his head "Who knows what this woman is saying? Don't listen to her."
Li Man was desperate. No one would listen to her. Even the old man who called the shots was the same. What should she do? What were they going to do? Set her on fire?
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