TIGR Chapter 11
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 11 The Explanation
Chen Yuxuan was in a cold sweat from that look. When the commander looked at people like this, someone would often be out of their luck. Chen Yuxuan pinched himself hard and forced himself to calm down, and said to the Liang family with a stern face: “This girl is the younger sister of my attendant and not my servant. I hope you don’t misunderstand, to despise her is to despise me.”
Chen Yuxuan had been polite before and they didn’t expect him to suddenly change. The Liang family originally thought that this was Chen Yuxuan’s concubine. However, when they had just expressed their thoughts, Chen Yuxuan became serious and even said that “to despise her is to despise me”. The Liang family looked at each other in dismay. They were not sure of the identity of this woman, but they knew that they could not slight her.
Thus, Wang Yanqing’s previous question could not be ignored. Madam Liang Shi originally didn’t want to demote herself to talk to a servant, but with Chen Yuxuan’s statement, she had to come forward and answer: “This concubine has no reply to the girl’s words. The eldest young master keeps to himself and is not close to the family. He was strange when the master was alive and now that the master has passed away, no one can control him anymore. I am the second wife, so I also did not give much attention to the eldest young master’s matters. I saw him leave and only thought that he was going out like usual to visit a friend, but unexpectedly, he disappeared. As a woman, I don’t have experience with this sort of matter. I was so frightened that I quickly called the three elders for their advice. As for what problems the eldest young master might have had in his mind… he never spoke with his family, so how could I know?”
When Madam Liang Shi spoke, her eyes inevitably fell on Wang Yanqing. When she was welcoming guests at the door earlier, she noticed a woman with a striking figure in the Thousand Households Chen’s procession. Now that she looked closely, she realized that this woman was not only beautiful but also had an excellent appearance. Madam Liang Shi was surprised. Her eyes traveled to the side and noticed that the man beside her was also imposing and dignified. In Madam Liang Shi’s heart, she was shocked and doubtful. Were these two people merely attendants of the Chen family? Were there still such people in this world?
Wang Yanqing did not care about Madam Liang Shi’s gaze and stared at her face the whole time. Wang Yanqing noticed that Madam Liang Shi’s eyes were erratic when she spoke, and her eyes moved quickly. When talking about Liang Rong’s strange behavior, her upper lip was slightly raised, and the corners of her left and right lips were higher and lower respectively, but when she said that she didn’t know where Liang Rong went, she pursed his lips.
Wang Yanqing let out a soft sigh in her heart and thought to herself that Madam Liang Shi was lying. When Madam Liang Shi mentioned Liang Rong’s disappearance, her expression was sad and helpless, and in her voice was crying. She looked like a powerless stepmother, but the subtle movements on her lips told otherwise. Madam Liang Shi held a lot of hostility towards Liang Rong. Moreover, she knew where Liang Rong had gone.
Wang Yanqing asked: “Madam Liang, do you remember when Liang Rong disappeared?”
Madam Liang Shi pinched the scarf between her fingers, frowned, and thought for a moment, then said: “It seems to be the seventeenth day of the last month.”
The same as what the maid said. Wang Yanqing noticed that Madam Liang Shi clenched her fist and did not explain any further, so she asked: “Why of all days was it the seventeenth? Was there anything particularly special about this day?”
Madam Liang Shi picked up the scarf and pressed it to her cheek, and said: “How do I know? Who is this girl and why are you so concerned about the affairs of the eldest young master of our mansion?”
When Wang Yanqing asked her questions, Lu Heng stood beside her, quietly listening. When he heard Madam Liang Shi say this, he raised his head and calmly looked at her: “Why, she can’t ask a question? Liang Rong’s disappearance has not been reported for half a month, and now that she asks about the time of disappearance, you evade it in every way possible. What are you trying to do?”
At that moment, Madam Liang Shi seemed to be stared at by something ice cold and was so frightened that she couldn’t move. The other three elders were also a little shocked and looked at each other.
Was this really the bodyguard of the Chen family? As an attendant, he was too provocative and handsome. The most important thing was that he was not angry and arrogant when he spoke. He did not look like a follower, but more like Chen Yuxuan’s master!
Seeing that something was wrong, Chen Yuxuan quickly stepped forward and said: “If the eldest young master Liang went out on the seventeenth of last month, it’s really not right that he hasn’t returned yet. It is customary for the Imperial Guards to clear a batch of inventory before the end of the year. Maybe in a few days, Commander Chen Du and Commander Lu will look at the case of the Liang family’s inheritance of the Thousand Households. At this time, if the eldest young master Liang is still missing, I am afraid that it will be troublesome for the transference. Where is Liang Rong’s room? I’ll go and have a look. Maybe I can find some clues.”
Madam Liang Shi pinched her eyebrow and said: “How can I dare bother Thousand Households Chen with this family matter. Thousand Households must go back to your hometown to get married. If the time is delayed…”
“It’s no bother.” Chen Yuxuan waved his hand and said, “Brother Liang and I have been close since we first met, and I have always regarded Brother Liang as my elder brother. Now, Brother Liang has left, and the eldest young master is still missing. How can I pay no heed? I don’t know where Liang Rong’s room is located, is it convenient for me to take a look?”
When Chen Yuxuan offered to help, how could the clan elders refuse? Without waiting for Madam Liang Shi to speak, a clan elder cupped his hands in respect and said: “It is no inconvenience at all, Thousand Households Chen is willing to help us. We cannot thank you enough. Madam, quickly show Thousand Households Chen the way.”
Madam Liang Shi opened her mouth to speak, but held back what she wanted to say. She stood up, pinched her scarf, and smiled: “Then, thank you Thousand Households Chen. Thousand Households, please follow me this way.”
Madam Liang Shi smiled naturally, but after she finished speaking, she licked her lower lip quickly. Wang Yanqing had a panoramic view of everything, she took a step back and opened the door. Madam Liang Shi led Chen Yuxuan past her, followed by the three elders of the Liang family and Liang Bin. After everyone went out, Lu Heng said to Wang Yanqing: “Let’s go.”
Wang Yanqing nodded, lifted her skirt and walked out with Lu Heng following close behind her. While walking out, Wang Yanqing used this opportunity to whisper to Lu Heng: “She is lying.”
Lu Heng hummed, not looking surprised, and instead asked with interest: “Why?”
“When I asked her about the seventeenth, she kept covering her face with something. When Chen Yuxuan offered to check out Liang Rong’s residence, she licked her lips. Nervousness will make someone’s mouth dry and Chen Yuxuan’s request made her nervous.”
Lu Heng raised his eyebrows and was quite amazed. Having a dry mouth when nervous was an instinctive reaction of the body and was not controlled by thoughts. Madam Liang Shi probably didn’t even realize that she licked her lips.
Lu Heng and Wang Yanqing fell behind because of their discussion. When they arrived, Liang Rong’s room was already crowded with people. Madam Liang Shi took out the key and unlocked the door without any abnormality. Wang Yanqing stood at the far back of the crowd carefully watching Madam Liang Shi’s movements and asked: “Liang Rong just left, and he has not returned yet, why is the door locked?”
Madam Liang Shi’s hand paused slightly, then she turned the key and said: “There are a lot of people who have come to give incense to the master recently. People come and go and I am afraid that something will go missing so I locked the residence.”
Wang Yanqing gave a faint response, and she looked at the opposite room, which should have been Liang Bin’s residence, but it was not locked. Madam Liang Shi finally opened the door. She pushed open the door and did not enter. She stood beside the door and said: “This is the eldest young master’s room. It has not been cleaned for many days so there is a lot of dust inside, I apologize.”
It had been locked up for a few days without ventilation so the smell inside the room was bad. But Chen Yuxuan worked in the Imperial Guards and had seen many scenes. This kind of environment was nothing to him. Chen Yuxuan entered the house first and upon seeing this, the three Liang elders followed behind.
It was cold in the twelfth month, and there had not been a fire inside the house for more than ten days. Standing on the ground, there seemed to be a gloomy overcast. The Liang family elders could not let Thousand Households Chen from the capital suffer from such neglect and immediately said: “Quickly bring some hot charcoal, be careful not to freeze Thousand Households Chen…”
Chen Yuxuan seemed to be walking around the center of the room, but he was actually looking at the back of the room out of the corner of his eye. He caught a glimpse of the commander and the mysterious Miss Wang who was also entering the house. He understood and immediately said: “Don’t bother, I’ll just walk around. Madam Liang and the three elders don’t have to stay with me, I can see for myself.”
How could Madam Liang Shi and the clan elders let Chen Yuxuan look around by himself. All of them carefully followed right behind Chen Yuxuan. Chen Yuxuan attracted most of the attention, and no one paid attention to the people in the rear. Wang Yanqing looked around after entering the house. This was an open room with three wings, which had open access between and was connected by a partition board and screen. There were two pairs of landscape paintings hanging on the middle of the wall, and below were tables and chairs for guests. The room on the south side had a bed for sleeping. The room on the north side had been transformed into a study, and a bookshelf leaned on the east wall, completely packed with books. In front of the bookshelf was a set of Huanghuali tables and chairs complete with every kind of brush, ink, paper, and inkstone on the table, with a small couch on the north wall. The couch was cleaned up very neatly, without anything atop.
|| Huanghuali directly translates to Chrysanthemum Pear tables and chairs. It is a type of wood often decorated with floral carvings.
Chen Yuxuan, Madam Liang Shi, and the others went to look at the bedroom. Instead of squeezing into the crowded place, Lu Heng turned around and went to the north room. Wang Yanqing swept her eyes around the main room and also went to the study room.
When Wang Yanqing entered, Lu Heng was rummaging through the items on the Huanghuali table. He pressed his fingers to the indented spot of the inkstone, tried the hardness, and suddenly picked up a pen from the brush rest. Wang Yanqing walked over and asked softly: “Second Brother, what is it?”
Lu Heng swept the brushes hanging according to size and thickness on the brush holder, gestured Wang Yanqing to the tip, and said: “This brush has not been washed.”
Wang Yanqing stood behind Lu Heng’s shoulder and leaned closer. Sure enough, the tip of the brush was stained with ink. Wang Yanqing looked towards the pen holder. The hair on the brush holder had light ash-colored hair, obviously cleaned. Wang Yanqing swept her eyes across the ornaments on the desk and said: “This brush was placed on the brush rest. It could be often used or the last one used so he did not have time to wash it?”
Lu Heng did not make a comment. He put the brush back in its original position, turned around, and walked to the bookshelf. Wang Yanqing noticed these books as soon as she came in. She stopped in front of the bookshelf, looked at the densely packed books in front of her, and sighed sincerely: “He is the son of a military officer, I didn’t expect there to be so many books. Could this be the reason why Madam Liang Shi said he was weird?”
A book was placed flat on the wooden frame, with an inscribed bamboo stick sandwiched at one end, and a title marked in small script. Lu Heng looked around in front of the bookshelf for a while, then suddenly pulled out a book. He turned two pages and smiled: “Indeed, this is very strange. He was born into a family of the Imperial Guards and likes to read books, but he did not read the Four Books and Five Classics, rather some strange stories. This kind of character is quite rare in the Imperial Guards.”
|| The Four Books refer to Great Learning 大学, the Doctrine of the Mean 中庸, the Analects of Confucius 论语, and Mencius 孟子. The Five Classics refer to the Book of Songs 诗经, the Book of History 书经, the Classic of Rites 礼记, the Book of Changes 易经, and the Spring and Autumn Annals 春秋. These are traditional books that nobles and military families might grow up reading.
Wang Yanqing asked: “What is the common character of a child from the Imperial Guards, was Second Brother like this?
Lu Heng held a page between his fingers, looked over it slowly, and unhurriedly said: “No. I’m a freak too.”
Wang Yanqing laughed and walked over: “That’s not surprising Second Brother. Hey, why is it wet over here?”
Several pages of the book in Lu Heng’s hand were wet, and the edges were crumpled with light brown marks. Wang Yanqing stepped forward while sniffing. Lu Heng was holding a book in his hand and didn’t expect her to suddenly approach. He hurriedly used the back of his hand to cover her nose: “You are very brave but be careful of the poison.”
Wang Yanqing pushed away his hand and said dissatisfied: “You are directly holding it without any issues I merely approached to smell it, not even touching it.”
Lu Heng closed the book, inserted it back in its spot, and said: “It’s different.”
“What’s the difference.” Wang Yanqing said, frowning carefully, trying to recall the taste just now, “The thing on it seems to be tea? Maybe he read the book carelessly and splashed some tea on it?”
“Fortunately, it’s tea. What if it was poisonous?” Lu Heng wiped his fingers with a handkerchief, then pressed Wang Yanqing’s shoulder, leading her away from the bookshelf, “This is not a good trait, it needs to be changed.”
The desk took up a large part of the space, only a narrow aisle was left, and the two of them had to pass close together. Next to it was a couch with a small table, which seemed to be a place for Liang Rong to rest when he was tired of reading. Wang Yanqing only glanced at it and retracted her gaze, but Lu Heng seemed to be very interested in the couch. After looking at it for a long time, she suddenly bent over and looked at the edge of the couch.
Wang Yanqing followed Lu Heng’s gaze and saw a few scratches on the black wood paint on the sidebar. The color was still very new. Lu Heng pressed his fingers to the scratches, his eyes swept across the couch as if measuring the distance. Wang Yanqing waited for a while and tried to ask: “Second Brother, what did you find?”
Lu Heng got up and clapped his hands. He shook his head and remained silent. The other people had already finished looking at the bedroom and Madam Liang Shi discovered that Lu Heng and Wang Yanqing were in the study room the entire time. She quickly walked over and asked: “Why are you two in here? The north room is cold and gloomy. I am afraid that our two precious guests will freeze, come out and talk.”
Madam Liang Shi’s voice was high and sharp, a startling sound that suddenly rang from the door. Lu Heng did not say anything and even came out. Chen Yuxuan and the three clan elders already stopped at the door and when they saw them coming out, they walked to the main room together.
Wang Yanqing deliberately fell behind, and when the people in front were not paying attention, she approached Lu Heng and said in a breath: “She doesn’t usually sound like that. When she came to the study and found us just now, her voice became sharper and louder than usual. She got nervous when she saw us checking out the study.”
Lu Heng was much taller than Wang Yanqing. She didn’t want the people in front to hear her, so she could only stand on her tiptoes and try her best to get close to Lu Heng’s ear. When she spoke, her breath faintly fluttered on Lu Heng’s neck, making him feel a little itchy. Lu Heng grabbed Wang Yanqing’s hand, took the initiative to lean over, and ask: “Hmm?”
Wang Yanqing thought that Lu Heng didn’t hear her, so she repeated it again. Lu Heng pulled the corner of his lip back and after listening he glanced back at Wang Yanqing with an ambiguous smile: “You observe people so carefully that you notice their voices?”
In this trip, Lu Heng discovered that lying controls someone’s facial expression, but also their movements, body, and voice, it was a set. Even if their voice was a little higher than usual, Wang Yanqing could still detect it. It would be really hard to lie to her face.
When Wang Yanqing told him about the case, he even laughed. Wang Yanqing glared at him with her quiet lake-like eyes, and said displeasingly: “I’m being serious.”
In this position, the two were so close that Lu Heng could feel the warm fragrance from Wang Yanqing’s collar. He clenched Wang Yanqing’s hand and skillfully received the scolding. In this delay, they fell far away from the people in front. Madam Liang Shi thought these two people were very strange, so she kept an eye on them on the road. When she noticed that they were falling behind, Madam Liang Shi kept looking back and asked with a frown: “Thousand Households Chen, what is the relationship between these two attendants in your family?”
Even if Wang Yanqing was not Chen Yuxuan’s servant, it would be against etiquette for a maid and a guard to be so close. Chen Yuxuan tried his best to pretend to be blind during the journey, but he was pointed out by Madam Liang Shi. He touched his nose and said with a smile: “Madam Liang is unaware, these two are… brother and sister. You don’t have to worry about their relationship.”
Madam Liang Shi let out a sigh, glanced back, and couldn’t help muttering: “Brother and sister? It doesn’t look like it…”
Chen Yuxuan acted like he did not hear her. After such an exchange, Wang Yanqing discovered that the people in front of her were talking about them. Wang Yanqing subconsciously wanted to retreat but was stopped by Lu Heng. Lu Heng’s fingers slowly stroked Wang Yanqing’s wrist and absent-mindedly said: “How am I not being serious? I am still counting on Qing Qing to help me clear up this confusion.”
She help him? Wang Yanqing raised her eyebrows, expressing her suspicions. She felt that Lu Heng had almost already deduced the matter and didn’t need her help to detect lies at all. Wang Yanqing lowered her voice and said slowly: “I don’t dare, Second Brother has a clear mind, why do you need me in this matter? I’m confused instead.”
Lu Heng let out a low laugh, looked at her seriously with a pair of eyes, and said: “I don’t agree. Qing Qing helped me a lot today. But there is one thing I still don’t understand. During our visit, the Liang family practices have been very neat. Why did the Liang family’s daughter commit adultery? Qing Qing, among the crooked and straight, I can only depend on you.”
|| Author’s Note:
An actor’s self-training: 《 On how to learn acting during a business trip 》