He did not notice the changes in her expression and simply continued his speech. "This Luo Hanjin… Wasn't he found guilty of committing depraved acts on children a few years ago? This piece of news got entirely blown up, and many children at the welfare center were discovered to have received varying degrees of sexual assaults – simply outrageous. That welfare center was registered under an individual. While the place operated under the pretext of a 'welfare center' back then, unbeknown to the public, the people working there were selling innocent and young children to rich people as playthings. In other words, they were rearing thin horses."
"What do you mean?"
Regaining her senses, she failed to grasp the meaning of his words.
'Rearing thin horses'? What does that mean?
The man had a look of surprise on his face. "Don't you know the meaning of 'rearing thin horses'?"
"I'm not sure. Something to do with thin horses, perhaps?"
"It has nothing to do with horses at all! You're not unsure of its definition – you're simply clueless about it. Ha ha. What an innocent child!" A corner of his lips rose, which quickly blossomed into a grin. "The thin horses of Yangzhou – have you heard of them?"
She turned her head left and right cluelessly.
He, thus, explained it to her. "Currently, in the entertainment industry, there are many popular groups. Don't be deceived by their dazzling appearances, for they actually have investors backing them. For example, the in-demand members of the group SWEETGIRLS are, in fact, a bunch of 'thin horses' that the record company is grooming. Many rich men like to play with girls that are 'growing up'– it's a current trend in the high society."
"What exactly does 'rearing thin horses' mean, then?" She was befuddled by his explanation.
"This has to be explained from the start. In the past, within the water towns of Jiangnan, there were many young girls who have received special training to serve rich men as their mistresses. These girls have pretty features and thin physiques – hence the name 'thin horses'. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, 'rearing thin horses' became such a profitable investment a majority of people engaged in the activity."
He paused to look at her before he went on with his explanation. "Similar to choosing products, those people in that business carefully selected poor and young girls from all over the country. Those with better physical appearances were trained to have many talents. They were adept at the Four Books and Five Classics, lute-playing, chess, calligraphy, and painting. Eventually, they were sold off to the rich as mistresses for a high price. However, not all 'thin horses' were that lucky. Those who did not get selected were sent to brothels. Those songstresses found along the Qinhuai River were originally 'thin horses'."
She took this story with a pinch of salt as she could hardly believe that such a thing had happened in the past.
Noting her skepticism, he said with a chortle, "That private welfare center used its name to take in orphans and secretly picked out those good-looking ones. Some were sent to the rich with their prices clearly marked."
She squeezed her brows. This world apparently had many dark secrets she was unaware of.
She was truly horrified.
During her dark childhood at the welfare center, she had her share of seeing Luo Hanjin's filth and shamelessness.
Fortunately, Yun Yecheng appeared and took her away from that hellish place of misery. She was thus eternally grateful to him!
If it had not been for his timely arrival in her life, she would probably have turned out differently.
In the time she was in a trance, Qin Zhou had brought over his home-cooked porridge. He set up the table attached to her bed and presented the porridge and side dishes to her. He said smilingly, "You must be hungry. Ha ha! Come and have a taste of this specially prepared plain porridge by Sir Qin Zhou for you. I'll let you be the judge of my cooking skills!"
She shockingly asked, "You made this for me?"
"Who else, then? I realized that you haven't had your lunch. Since you slept through the entire afternoon, you must be famished now!"
"Thank you!" She pressed her lips together, thankful for his thoughtfulness.