Chapter 10: The Benefits of Being Blind
Piles of silver were stacked on the table, and someone added their jade pendant on top. A young and inexperienced but unusually lucky lad naturally drew attention. Before long, the area was filled with onlookers.
“Sir, please choose.”
The table in front of He Yan was filled with banknotes. Those who had mocked her earlier were now silent. Even a fool could tell that she wasn’t a novice at gambling. If it weren’t for Le Tong Manor’s renowned reputation, others might have suspected that she was colluding with the house to deceive outsiders.
The distant sound of night watchmen patrolling outside could be faintly heard. He Yan said, “It’s getting late, I should go back.”
“Sir,” the old man with the long beard smiled slightly, “How about one last round, but we’ll change the game?”
He Yan looked at him, “What’s the game?”
“Don’t gamble on big or small this time. I see that you’re quite skilled, so why not try guessing the exact number of the dice?” He pushed all the jewelry and banknotes on the table to the center, “If you win, they’re all yours.”
He Yan looked at the silver on the table.
She had already won quite a bit, and she knew this would attract even more attention. In the past, when she was in the military, she had heard junior officers talking about the dark side of gambling. She knew that it was time to quit while she was ahead, but somehow, her mind was filled with the image of He Yunsheng’s longing gaze when he talked about the school, as well as the long robe she wore that was washed until worn-out.
“Alright,” she said.
The crowd erupted into commotion, and the atmosphere soared.
Guessing big or small and guessing numbers were completely different things.
Guessing big or small relied on luck, and there were only two possible outcomes: big or small. But guessing numbers required precision, down to each individual digit. One mistake would mean failure. The chances of winning were extremely slim unless one was truly skilled at throwing dice. Moreover, each gambling house had its own techniques and methods.
He Yan also pushed all the banknotes in front of her.
If she lost this round, everything she had won tonight would be in vain. If she won, the He family’s living expenses and He Yunsheng’s school fees would be covered for about three to five years.
Seeing this scene, the others also raised their bets. “I’m in too!”
“This is my money, I bet on this brother to win!”
“How is that possible? I’ll bet on the house, hahaha!”
As the stakes got higher, more and more people joined in. The prospect of becoming rich overnight or losing everything overnight made this show even more enticing than the best drama troupe in the capital.
The old man with the long beard slowly lifted the cup, and the gambling hall fell silent. It seemed like the only sound was the collision of the dice in the copper cup.
He Yan was slightly lost in thought.
Her gambling skills were actually quite terrible. At least, before she returned to the capital, before she married into the Xu family, she was as bad as ever. Not long after her wedding, she had played leaf cards with the other ladies at various banquets as Madam Xu, and she lost miserably every time. At that time, Xu Zhiheng would always smile and say, “You, why are you so silly?”
At that rare moment, He Yan thought she had captured a glimpse of tenderness and intimacy from the handsome young man. She was delighted and made a secret resolution to study hard and improve her skills, so she could give Xu Zhiheng some face at the next banquet.
Unfortunately, before she could become proficient at leaf cards, she lost her sight.
Whether it was a family banquet or an external event, the Xu family couldn’t possibly let a blind woman represent the mistress of the main house. She stopped going out, but life in the mansion became boring and stifling. Unable to see, she had to rely on her other senses.
She wanted to become a blind person who could move freely without anyone’s help. Being ambitious as always, she started practicing again. She listened to sounds, learned to discern shapes through sound, and gradually learned to move around. When her movements became somewhat proficient, she could even use the branches in the mansion to practice swordplay secretly.
It was during that time that she learned to listen to the sound of dice.
Dice was much simpler than leaf cards, He Yan thought. The more delicate something was, the more it tested her hearing. She listened carefully to every tiny difference as the dice fell and the slight variations when the bamboo tube was shaken. She memorized the numbers in her mind and then felt them with her fingers. At first, she made many mistakes, but one day, after silently reciting the numbers and touching the dice, she finally smiled.
The Xu family’s servants whispered secretly about her, saying that the Madam had gone mad after going blind and would shake a bamboo tube in her room all day. However, they gradually realized that He Yan could manage her daily life without anyone’s help. She could accurately discern each Xu family servant by their footsteps and knew the location of every item in the room.
If they didn’t know she was truly blind, they would hardly see any difference between her and a normal person.
Xu Zhiheng praised her and held her hand, complimenting her. While she was happy, there was also a faint sense of disappointment. She couldn’t quite pinpoint why she felt this way, but she had a lingering feeling that it shouldn’t have been like that.
Looking back now, her sense of hearing was already remarkably keen at that time, and she probably sensed Xu Zhiheng’s coldness and indifference when speaking to her. Yet, her emotions made her unconsciously avoid facing this thought.
He Yan lowered her gaze, she realized…. the person on the spot is baffled, the onlooker sees clear*.
* The onlooker sees more of the game.
The sound of shaking dice suddenly stopped. “Bang,” the bowl was turned upside down on the table.
One die, two dice, both settled.
Everyone looked at He Yan. She closed her eyes as if she had returned to the days at the Xu family. She sat at the table, shaking the dice, uncovering them, and touching every face of the dice on her own.
Attempting to grasp that glimmer of light in the darkness.
“2, 5,” she opened her eyes and said.
The overturned bowl was lifted, and the two dice laid bare in front of everyone’s eyes.
Silence followed, and then a moment later, someone gasped softly. Soon, the gasps spread throughout the crowd. The young nobleman in brocade closest to He Yan grabbed her arm and shouted, “Young Master, from today onwards, you are my teacher! Please accept my bow!”
He Yan helplessly pulled his hand off her arm.
The old man with the long beard’s smile seemed somewhat stiff for a moment, but it quickly returned. He stroked his beard and said, “Masterful skill, young sir. All this silver is yours.” After a pause, he added, “May I ask for the young master’s distinguished name? Would you honor this old man with a cup of tea before leaving?”
He Yan pocketed all the banknotes and jewelry, then politely declined, “A nameless nobody, not worth mentioning. It’s already too late today. Let’s have tea on another day.” With that, she swiftly walked out of Le Tong Manor.
The people in the gambling hall continued to marvel at the gambling game just now. The old man with the long beard remained smiling as he walked upstairs. Someone bowed their head in front of him, and he said, “Follow him!”
On the other side, the big man with a gloomy expression tapped his fingers and gestured to the servants behind him to head out of Le Tong Manor.
“Win my silver and think you can run? There’s no such easy thing in the world, idiot!”