Emily's family was well-known for being the poorest in the village. Her father, Tavis Hyde, made a living for the family by hunting in the mountains.
There was little food in the mountains and very few animals. Tavis rarely caught any prey.
In the eyes of little Emily, although her family was not rich, they were very happy. Every day was fulfilling and enjoyable for her.
One evening, a hungry white tiger came down from the mountains in search of food.
How could a small mountain village of a mere forty households resist the tiger's attack?
In an instant, some villagers had already fallen to the ground with injuries. Tavis turned his head to look at his wife and child, he said to Emily, "I'm going to lure the tiger away. You have to listen to your mother, understand?"
"Papa, can you not go?"
All Emily knew was that the tiger was very powerful. Papa couldn't defeat it, and she didn't want Papa to go.
"I don't want to see Papa get hurt! I want Papa to be fine and healthy!"
Her mother hugged Emily tightly. "Be a good girl, Emily. You're holding back Papa's work."
Tavis looked one last time at the two most important people in his life. He turned around and resolutely took on the responsibility of a man.
After Emily's father cut himself with his machete, he successfully lured the tiger away with the scent of his blood.
One day passed, two days passed. Tavis never came back, and Emily's mother fell ill.
Emily heard from the villagers that her father was dead.
But Emily didn't want to believe that her father was gone. What about her mother? There was no money left to treat her illness.
Emily went to every house in the village, but no one was willing to lend her money.
Just like that, two months later, Emily sent her last family member away.
"Mom, I'll be strong on my own... Papa, Mama…..."
Emily wailed uncontrollably in front of their graves.
The old village chief couldn't help but pity her, and called a village meeting.
"Two months ago, the tiger came down from the mountains. It was Tavis who lured the tiger away alone and saved everyone's lives. We all have to remember that. Now Tavis's wife is gone too, and the only one left in the family is this little girl. No matter what, we have to raise her so there would be someone at Tavis' grave to mourn and remember him."
"Alright then, we'll take turns raising Emily and feeding her. If we raise her until she's 18 years old, we would've repaid our debts to Tavis."
Just like that, Emily began her days of eating at the tables of every house in the village.
In the first month, the villagers remembered Tavis's sacrifice. But as time passed, rumors began to spread.
"Tavis must have lured the tiger away for the sake of his sickly wife. Otherwise, why would he sacrifice his life for us? We're not even related!"
"Yeah. His wife was ill and the kid was so young, no way they'll be able to outrun the tiger."
"Why should we raise a girl for free? My own children aren't even getting enough to eat. Isn't she taking a share of our meals?"
"That's right. My family doesn't have enough to eat to begin with. Yet we still have to give some to the girl. How can this be justified?"
In just two months, the villagers' attitudes had changed drastically.
Emily looked at the villagers who used to be friendly and amiable. Now, their faces looked detestable, as though they were her enemies.
Having not eaten for two days, Emily went to the village chief's house with a dizziness in her head.
It was really dark that day. Emily knocked on the door over and over again, but no one came to open the door.
Little Emily knew that she was now a burden to the villagers, and no one wanted to take care of her.
She didn't understand. Her father saved everyone, but in a mere two months, it was as if everyone had forgotten about it entirely! What made her even more confused was how it seemed like saving their lives was only worth a few meals!
Emily left begrudgingly. She didn't want to, but she still left the place where she grew up.
Emily wandered into the city. She was too young and couldn't work, so she could only rummage through garbage cans searching for food.
Occasionally, passersby would look at her pitifully and throw her some spare change. But those would soon be snatched away by older children.
Today, Emily came to the famous Jinjiang Restaurant. They were distributing free food to the homeless.
Emily happily took the food that was distributed to her, these would be enough for two whole days, she smiled sweetly at that thought.
At the entrance of an alley, she saw a guy and a dog having a stare down.
"Archie, don't bark."
Emily hurriedly ran over and blocked in front of the dog.
She looked up at the guy, who turned out to be handsome boy not too much older than her.
However, he seemed to have a bad temper, and his expression looked a little scary.
He was holding food in his hands and wanted to feed Archie, but Archie didn't like eating food from strangers.
Shen Yu glanced at the girl who had suddenly popped out before him. The little girl's face was dirty, and only a pair of big round eyes could be seen. It was already late autumn, but the girl was still wearing summer clothes which looked like they haven't been washed for a while.
"Mister, Archie doesn't eat other people's food. You eat it yourself."
As she spoke, Emily gave Archie half of the food she distributed to her.
Archie rubbed its head against Emily and licked her hand, then lowered its head to eat. It no longer cared about this strange human who insisted on making a dog eat.
Shen Yu looked at the girl's thin and frail figure, and his heart thumped for some reason.
"Would you like to eat this?"
As he spoke, he tried to pass the food in his hand to Emily.
Emily swallowed her saliva and refused.
"Thank you, Mister, but I already have food." She gobbled down her food in big mouthfuls.