Chapter 7. Locked Up (1)
After leaving Jihak’s house, Eunha turned around many times. The things that had happened there didn’t seem real. It was as if she’d been dreaming.
He offered neither 100 tael coins nor 1000 tael coins. What he offered was to double the amount of double.
Was he testing her? To see if she was only after the money?
Maybe, tomorrow when she comes back, he’ll say something different.
She slapped her cheeks with both her hands, which surprised the bookshop owner.
“Did you finally lose your mind? Why are you hitting yourself?”
“I did it because I can’t believe what just happened.”
“Why? Did you fall in love with that mister?”
“Love? No. He said he’d pay me a lot of money, so I’m having a hard time believing it really happened.”
Eunha walked silently while rubbing her cheeks. Since she seemed to be struggling, the bookshop owner said to her,
“Really? Well, it doesn’t surprise me. After all, he also paid me a lot of money for the books. But be careful. If what you have in your hands is too sweet, it can be bad for your health.”
“You’re right. That’s why I hit myself, to see if I can come back to my senses. I was afraid of falling for it.”
Her smile was as fluffy as winter snow. Song, the bookshop owner, turned around and looked back at Seo Jihak’s house. He remembered what he had heard there.
‘Who would’ve thought the owner of that house is the crown prince.’
Although, Seo Jihak had lost that position.
The current king had four sons. Among them, the queen had given birth to only Seo Jihak. Which is why the king favored him a lot.
But once the queen died and one of his concubines took that position, a bloodbath began in the royal family. It was a long fight, and the citizens were the ones that suffered the consequences of it.
Most people thought Seo Jihak would end up taking the throne.
But that didn’t happen.
In the end, he lost his position and was forced to go live in the countryside. Not only that, but he also lost his sight.
Bookshop owner Song had an interest in politics, so he was aware of what was happening in the capital city.
‘I can’t believe that such a scary person wants Eunha.’
The owner couldn’t help but think of how things would get dangerous. However, he wasn’t sure if he should mention this to her.
This may be her only chance to get her sister out of the courtesan house. Mr. Song shook the thought away and gave Eunha a sweet he had received while waiting for her to return.
“It was my first time eating something so sweet and delicious. You should also taste it.”
Eunha smiled the moment she saw the sweet treat covered in a cotton cloth.
“Thanks a lot. Mister, if everything goes well, I’ll definitely pay you back for your generosity.”
Her sweet and lovely smile made his heart ache, but he decided to brush it off.
By the time Eunha had returned with the medicine, Yongi’s fever had decreased considerably.
When her fever refused to go down, Chunhe had carried her to the bathtub in order to cool her body. Only after a cold shower was Yongi able to come back to her senses.
“Sister, this is a medicine that doctor Seo made himself, so please, take it. Then let’s share this sweet. This was given to me by the bookshop owner.”
“… Thank you, Eunha.”
“Does it still hurt?”
Eunha asked while touching Yongi’s forehead.
Yongi shook her head as she took the medicine. Afterwards, she cut the sweet in half and gave a portion to Eunha.
While eating the sweet, Eunha tried to think of how to tell her sister about the events that occurred today.
Eunha was afraid of Yongi learning about her new job as a reader. Perhaps her sister would get sicker after learning the truth. However, if she didn’t say anything, Yongi would be very angry.
In the end, she chose to keep it a secret.
“Sister, I’m going to start working with the bookshop owner.”
Yongi raised her brows in response and Eunha saw her own expression reflected in her eyes. Although their dressing styles were completely different, they still resembled each other.
“What kind of work are you going to do with Mr. Song?”
“A relative of his sells books written in Western Language. That’s why he has so many of them in his bookshop. But he says that his relative needs more helpers. The original books are very expensive, which is why he’s transcribing them. But there aren’t that many people who know how to read and write the Western Language, so he’s asked me to come and help.”
Eunha was surprised by how well she was lying. She didn’t even get nervous.
Yongi had believed her lies and was now smiling as she stroked Eunha’s cheeks.
“I’m glad he has a very good opinion on you.”
“It’s just that I’m great.”
“Yes, it’s true that you’re smart. I finally feel at ease now.”
Yongi sighed in relief.
Eunha also felt a sense of relief after seeing her sister’s reaction. Although she had lied to her, this was all to help her.
Since her fever was starting to get worse again, Eunha allowed Yongi to rest and started to pack her things. She thought that she’d be able to come back every ten days to see her sister. But maybe her employer would find it suspicious if she visited her sister too frequently.
Maybe once a month would be better.
Since she mostly wore men’s clothing, she didn’t have that many things to pack. After packing up her inkstone, ink, and brush, her room started to feel empty.
Lastly, she grabbed the money pot and placed a seal on it. Now no one would dare touch it. Only then was she satisfied and laid down next to her sister.
Tomorrow, she had to meet that scary mister again. However, people say you can adapt to anything after a while, even scary people.
With a very determined mind, Eunha covered herself with the blanket and hugged Yongi. Thoughts of not being able to see her sister for a while made her sad.
Usually, she behaved like a grown-up boy. But, when she was with her sister, she always felt like a child. She found comfort in the arms of Yongi, who was like a mother figure for her, and closed her eyes.
That night felt shorter than usual.
“Since the house owner hasn’t allowed it, you can’t go outside from today onwards.”
Early the next morning, the guards blocked Eunha from leaving the courtesan house. Song, the bookshop owner, couldn’t believe what was going on.
“Why are you doing this? She isn’t a courtesan!”
“You have no sayings on this issue, old man. We only take orders from the owner of the house.”
“I’m sure she must have her reasons. But still, treating this kid as a courtesan is wrong!”
Eunha, who was usually very scared of the guards, glared at them while wondering how things had gotten to this point.
The owner of the courtesan house had never cared about her. She only got mad at her when she returned late from studying with Young Master Yoon. Eunha understood her anger, but didn’t want to stop studying out of fear.
‘Why did she give such an order?’
“Mister Song, just go back for now. Tell the lord about the current situation and ask him for more time. I’ll try to get away from here as soon as possible.”
“O… Okay. It’s my first time seeing or hearing about such nonsense. You’re all going to regret this!”
The guards didn’t seem to care about Mr. Song’s warning. Not long after he had left, Yongi appeared at the entrance and began shouting at the guards that were blocking Eunha.
“What are you doing?! How dare you block her way?! Is this an order from her?!”
“Yes, this is an order from the owner. So if you have any complaints, go talk to her.”
“How dare you talk like that. Eunha, wait for me. I’ll go talk to her.”
Eunha felt it was for the best that she remained silent. Now she was starting to understand why her sister wanted her to get out of this house as soon as possible.
And why she cried every single night.
The reason why that person didn’t want her to leave this house was obvious.
“I’m here. There’s no need to search for me.”
Simdeok appeared just as Yongi was about to turn around. The guards kneeled the moment they spotted her.
Eunha and Yongi confronted her immediately.
“Why are you always like this?”
Simdeok smiled at Yongi’s harsh remark. She stood in front of Eunha and scanned her head to toe. Simdeok was a concubine of the minister of defense and the owner of the courtesan house. She was still technically a commoner since she wasn’t able to become the official wife.
Despite that, she had more power and influence than most nobles.
“Even if you’re wearing men’s clothing, you can’t hide that beautiful face.”
Eunha bit her lips and replied,
“I’m grateful for your words, but I have no intentions of making a living off of my appearance.”
“Living off of your appearance, huh? Eunha, your sister is a commoner. Why are you acting as if you aren’t one? Do you think it’s her blessing that both of you can sleep in a comfortable room and eat delicious food?”
Eunha glared intensely at Simdeok, who spoke horrifyingly elegantly. With a smile, she called the guards.
“She’s a stubborn child, so lock her up. I don’t want her to see Young Master Yoon anymore.”
‘Lock me up?!’
Eunha silenced Yongi, who was about to shout.
“It seems like there was a misunderstanding. I’m not going out to see Young Master Yoon. I’m going to work at a place far away from here.”
She frowned in disgust after hearing the word ‘work’.
“I’m tired of hearing that lie. If I can’t make Young Master Yoon give up on you, I’ll just lock you up. Since your sister has rejected my offer, this is my only choice. Someone as shameless as you, who enjoys dressing up like a man, will get used to it quickly. Guards! What are you doing?! Take her!”