TIGR Chapter 14
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 14 Adulterer
Liang Fu’s eyes were hazy and vacant, she looked at the empty space, and said: “I remember that the weather was very good that day and the sun was very hot. I was a little sleepy after lunch, so I asked the maid to bring the couch over. I wanted to do needlework on my side for a while, but I fell asleep before I knew it. I don’t know how long I slept, but I was suddenly awakened. I don’t know what happened. I only saw the back of a man who jump out of my room and disappeared in a flash. There was a group of people outside yelling loudly, and then Madam rushed in with someone, saying that I had committed adultery with a man… I didn’t. I didn’t even know who that man was. I tried to explain to Madam, but Madam didn’t believe me and later, they called the clan elders. I kept explaining and crying incessantly, but none of them listened to me…”
Liang Fu started sobbing as she spoke, and there was a sound of movement outside the door. Liang Wen Shi’s maid opened the door and said: “Miss is starting to talk crazy again, Miss, you should go…”
The maid stepped forward wanting to pull Wang Yanqing away. Wang Yanqing raised her head and calmly glanced at the maid. The maid was caught off-guard and fell into a pair of black eyes. Those eyes were black and white, clear and pure, as if looking at a magic mirror, which could reflect all the filth in the world. The maid’s movements stopped in an unexpectedly hard pull and she didn’t dare step forward. Wang Yanqing ignored the maids around her, patted Liang Fu’s hand lightly, and said: “I believe you. Wait for me a moment.”
Wang Yanqing got up, her skin was whiter than snow and her eyes were dark. When she restrained herself with a smile on her face, she resembled the solemn Guanyin, awe-inspiring and untouchable: “I already said, you are not allowed to come in. Do you want to disrespect the commander of the Imperial Guards by interrupting my conversation with Miss Liang?”
|| Guanyin (观音) refers to the Bodhisattva of Compassion or Goddess of Mercy (Sanskrit Avalokiteśvara).
Wang Yanqing apologized in her heart again. Sorry, Second Brother, she didn’t mean to ruin his reputation, but it was too effective.
Wang Yanqing brought out the commander to scare people. She was as cold as ice, and the maids were stunned all of a sudden. Wang Yanqing swept her gaze over them and threatened: “This is your first offense. I’ll forgive you this time. Will you not leave quickly?”
It was clear that the Imperial Guard’s reputation was really bad, not one of the maids dared speak, and they close the door bitterly. But when they closed the door, they left a small gap. The space in Liang Fu’s chamber was originally small, but now that the door was open, they would surely be able to hear everything they said. In the end, Wang Yanqing took note of this and did not break out, but rather she returned to her former spot and smiled reassuringly at Liang Fu: “That was a long wait. I believe your words, don’t worry, wipe your tears first.”
Wang Yanqing did not rush to ask, and instead handed Liang Fu a handkerchief. There were still tears on Liang Fu’s face. She took Wang Yanqing’s handkerchief and wiped away her tears in a daze.
Wang Yanqing waited for Liang Fu’s mood to stabilize before asking: “Do you remember what that man looked like?”
Liang Fu was frightened when the maids broke in just now, but Wang Yanqing drove the maids away with a few words, not even Liang Wen Shi paid attention to her. After Wang Yanqing showed her abilities, Liang Fu became more and more dependent on Wang Yanqing, and she would answer whatever Wang Yanqing asked. Liang Fu thought for a while, then shook her head blankly. Wang Yanqing pondered for a moment and asked: “Where did you see him and what was the situation?”
This was Liang Fu’s chamber, which is also where the incident happened that day. Liang Fu gestured in the room: “I was sleeping on this couch at the time, but I only remembered that it was a little cold. I wanted to call the maid but couldn’t make a sound. Anyway, I slept very uncomfortably. Later, there was a sudden noise outside, and I was awakened all of a sudden. As soon as I opened my eyes, I saw a man standing at the window with his back to me, he jumped on the tree and left quickly. At that time, I thought I was dreaming, and I didn’t react. But at once, a group of people rushed in, yelling about reporting to the official.”
Liang Fu’s words were all jumbled up, but they were actually true. If it was something like that really happened in her memory, it would bring a lot of subjective feelings and thoughts when retelling it. If Liang Wen Shi did it again by the timeline without even thinking about it, it would be a lie.
Wang Yanqing already believed Liang Fu’s words. Wang Yanqing glanced at the crack in the door, and asked in a gentle voice: “Can you point me to your position at that time?”
Liang Fu nodded and followed Wang Yanqing to stand up. As she walked, she said: “The couch was placed here, my head was on this side, and that person was standing here…”
Wang Yanqing followed Liang Fu’s instructions and silently measured the distance in her head. Liang Fu’s chamber was on the second floor, and there was a tree not far from the window. If you jumped from Liang Fu’s window to the tree, you could climb along the branches to the wall and leave the Liang Mansion in the blink of an eye.
This distance was a bit far for a woman, but it shouldn’t have been difficult for an adult male.
Wang Yanqing quietly wrote down the information, and then asked Liang Fu: “Do you still have an impression of his size and height?”
Liang Fu thought for a while and said: “I just woke up and I couldn’t see clearly. I just remembered that he was wearing big clothes and a red scarf.”
Wang Yanqing opened the window and sat by the window with Liang Fu. The wind from outside poured in, and although it was a little cold, it immediately blew away the heavy air in the house. When Liang Fu felt the flowing air, her appearance also unconsciously brightened. Wang Yanqing chose a position far from the door, where outside noises covered them making their voices less obvious. Wang Yanqing ignored the maids’ eavesdropping and asked Liang Fu: “Have you seen his back before?”
Liang Fu looked blank, thought for a while and said: “I don’t remember.”
Wang Yanqing sighed secretly, looking at Liang Fu’s expression, she really didn’t know anything. She didn’t even see the other person’s face, how could this be adultery? However, etiquette was so strict for women. If a foreign man appeared in a woman’s chamber, for whatever reason, whether forced or not, a woman should die to preserve the reputation of the family.
The government has always regarded this kind of case as a family affair. If the elders of the women’s clan wanted to put the woman to death, it was not worth it for the government to intervene, generally, they would accept this and not regard it as murder.
Therefore, after Liang Wen Shi caught a man in Liang Fu’s room and reported it to the government, neither the Baoding Mansion nor the capital checked it, and the crime of adultery was directly convicted. Because of Lu Heng, Wang Yanqing knew the outcome of the case in advance. If she wanted to save Liang Fu, she would either have to find a way to prove that it was not adultery, or solve the problem from the source.
For example, why Liang Wen Shi convicted Liang Fu of a capital crime.
Wang Yanqing fixed her jade-like eyes on Liang Fu, not letting any slight fluctuation on her face, and asked: “Your stepmother convicted you of adultery. After your male relatives found out, did they also not care?”
When Liang Fu heard this, her whole body slumped: “My father is dead, and my eldest brother is missing, so the position of Thousand Households is likely to fall to Second Younger Brother. What outsider would offend Madam and Second Younger Brother for me?”
Wang Yanqing stared at her carefully and asked: “What about your eldest brother?”
“Eldest Brother has gone out, and I don’t know where he is.” Liang Fu sighed and said, “If only he would come back sooner.”
Wang Yanqing was silent. She couldn’t bear to tell Liang Fu the truth, so she changed her direction and asked: “When was the last time you saw Liang Rong?”
Liang Fu didn’t think much about it this time and quickly replied: “It was the night of the sixteenth day.”
“You remember so clearly?”
Liang Fu nodded: “Yes. I was in a bad mood that day and couldn’t sleep, so I went to talk to my eldest brother and wanted him to take me to the temple for a break. I saw the was light on in the eldest brother’s room, so I went up and knocked on the door, but after a long time, Eldest Brother didn’t come open the door. I found it strange and I wanted to push the door in to see, but the door was tied, and I didn’t push it open. The elder brother said from inside that he fell asleep and asked me to come back tomorrow.”
Wang Yanqing’s eyebrows moved unexpectedly, Liang Fu actually talked to Liang Rong? Wang Yanqing hurriedly asked: “When he spoke, was there anything unusual?”
“Unusual?” Liang Fu frowned, thought for a while, and said uncertainly: “His voice seemed to be a bit low, not like his usual tone of voice. I thought my eldest brother was sick.”
Wang Yanqing asked: “Apart from talking, was there anything strange in the room?”
Liang Fu frowned, thought for a while, and said: “There seemed to be other voices in the room at that time, muffled. I also didn’t know what was happening, my eldest brother asked me to go back, so I left first.”
Wang Yanqing nodded and asked: “Did you ever look for Liang Rong after that?”
Liang Fu replied: “Of course, I went to find him early the next morning, but there was no one in his room. I went to ask the doorman, and the doorman said that Eldest Brother left not long ago. I was very frustrated, and when I went back, I bumped into Second Younger Brother coming back from outside. Second Younger Brother and I were not born to the same mother, and we were not very close. I was embarrassed to ask Second Younger Brother to take me out, so I came back by myself.”
“Liang Bin?” Wang Yanqing was surprised, this intuition was very important, “When did you see him, what was he wearing?”
Liang Fu replied: “I can’t remember the time, I just remember it was cold and there was frost on the road. I also don’t have a good impression of the clothes on Second Younger Brother, it could have been a dark dress.”
Wang Yanqing’s heart moved slightly. At that time, Liang Wei had not passed away for less than a hundred days. Shouldn’t Liang Bin have been wearing white mourning clothes? Why would he go out wearing dark clothes? Wang Yanqing didn’t show it, and asked quietly: “Have you both spoken since then?”
“I just asked casually. I asked him where his elder brother had gone, and he said he didn’t know. When I went back, I was unwilling to accept it so I went to the door of my eldest brother again and took a look. When I left, I noticed that there seemed to be something on the ground. I picked it up and found it to be a bead.”
Wang Yanqing hurriedly asked: “What kind of beads were they?”
Liang Fu said: “It was just an ordinary pearl, I don’t know why it fell at Eldest Brother’s door. I still feel very strange in my heart, how could my eldest brother have pearls. I asked Liang Bin if it belonged to him, and he said no, so I brought it back.”
Wang Yanqing asked: “Where is that bead now?”
Liang Fu thought for a while, got up, and went to the makeup bag to get it: “I seem to have it here… Yes, here it is.”
Wang Yanqing followed Liang Fu to her makeup bag, and she inadvertently adjusted her body to block Liang Fu’s movements. Liang Fu pulled out a bead from the bottom of the makeup box and handed it to Wang Yanqing. Wang Yanqing picked it up and looked at it. The pearl was about the size of a soybean, the color was very new, and it was perforated in the middle, which looked decorative.
Wang Yanqing asked Liang Fu in a low voice: “Can I take this pearl with me?”
Liang Fu nodded in response. This kind of broken pearl was worthless, even if it was given to Wang Yanqing, it had no value. Wang Yanqing put the pearl in her bag, moving swiftly and quickly, using her figure as a cover. When Wang Yanqing did this, it happened to block the maid’s sight and if they walked back to the window, it would be too deliberate. Wang Yanqing took advantage of the situation and sat down by the dressing table, pretending to change the conversation, and asked: “Then what happened?”
When Liang Fu saw Wang Yanqing sitting down, she also sat down and said: “Then Second Younger Brother followed Madam back to her mother’s house. I passed the time in the room by myself. In the evening, Second Younger Brother and Madam came back and I went to the front for dinner. After the meal, I talked to the maid and went to bed. The same was true the next day. My brother was not there, and it was not easy for me to go out, so I spent time at home by myself. On the third day, I fell asleep at noon, and when I woke up, Madam said that I had fornicated with a foreign man…”
When Liang Fu recalled the events of that day, her expression became pained again. Wang Yanqing held her hand and said: “Okay, I understand, you don’t have to think about those things anymore. When I go back, I will report it truthfully. You have to live well and don’t think too much. I believe that the master will give you justice.”
Liang Fu thought that the “master” in Wang Yanqing’s words was Thousand Households Chen, and said gratefully: “Thank Thousand Households Chen. Miss, can you ask Thousand Households for help to find my eldest brother? He has been out for a long time. He used to go out and play in the mountains and rivers, but he came back in five days at most. He has never been away for so long.”
Wang Yanqing just agreed: “Okay, we will do our best. I’ll head out so you can rest in peace.”
The maids didn’t expect Wang Yanqing to come out so soon, and stood up in a hurry, with panic still on their faces. Wang Yanqing pulled open the door, her gaze swept across the faces of the maids, and without saying a word, she turned to Liang Fu and said: “Miss Liang, stay. I will leave first.”
Liang Fu reluctantly said goodbye to Wang Yanqing. When Wang Yanqing went downstairs, Liang Wen Shi’s maid looked back and forth and followed Wang Yanqing on her tiptoes. Wang Yanqing walked down the steps, brushed the hem of her skirt, and said: “If you want to know something just ask, why should you follow me like a prisoner?”
The maids were embarrassed and said with a dry smile: “Miss misunderstood. This servant was afraid that she would neglect the distinguished guest, so she followed Miss.”
“Okay.” Wang Yanqing nodded, “Since you have nothing to ask me, then I will ask you.” On the nineteenth day of the eleventh month, the day Madam Liang caught the man in the chamber, what were you doing? Your miss took a nap, you should have stayed by her side the entire time, why would you let another man enter the inner house?”
The maids were embarrassed, and one of them with a double bun said: “That is incorrect, Miss has a habit of taking naps, and she always sleeps until late in the afternoon. I saw the young lady fall asleep that day, and the kitchen asked for help again, so I went, planning to wait for the young lady to wake up before coming back.”
Another maid also said: “Me too, I was going to boil water.”
Wang Yanqing looked at the maids’ expressions and understood in an instant. She seemed to have lived in this environment for a long time and knew these back houses very well. These maids spoke well, but in fact, when most of them saw their miss fall asleep, they run out to rest and play by themselves, so there was no one guarding the embroidery building. Liang Wen Shi brought someone to catch the traitor, and he happened to be caught just in time.
Wang Yanqing did not pursue the carelessness of these maids and asked: “Adultery is always a matter between two people. Since Madam Liang reported Miss Liang’s adultery, who is the adulterer?”
The maids looked at each other and no one uttered a sound. Wang Yanqing’s eyebrows did not move, and she secretly pressed in her tone: “Speak. You don’t want to go to jail, do you?”
As soon as the Imperial Guards were brought up, the maids all cowered. A maid whispered: “It was Feng Liu. When the adulterer ran away, many people under the tree also saw him. The Madam immediately asked someone to go out to find someone wearing a red scarf, and as a result, she found the exact same clothes in Feng Liu’s house.”
With all the witnesses and materials, the arrest of the adulterer was a sure thing. Even if Liang Fu said she didn’t know Feng Liu, no one would believe her. Wang Yanqing remained silent and asked: “Who is Feng Liu?”