TIGR Chapter 58
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 58 Childlike Innocence
Li Zheng took Lu Heng to see the surrounding rivers. The commander was so elegant that the county magistrate and the prefect could not dare to avoid accompanying him. Prefect Cheng could only smile bitterly, get into the airtight sedan chair, and walk into the mountains under the scorching sun.
Lu Heng and the prefect took away most of the servants. After they left, Hegu Village fell silent again. Fifty-one families in this village had just lost their fathers, husbands, or sons. Every household hung in grieving white, floating in the warm sunshine of the seventh month, looking rather gloomy.
From this point of view, Wang Yanqing was lucky, she didn’t have to suffer from bumps, and could sit under the eaves to escape the heat calmly. She thought that sure enough, she and Second Brother grew up together, and the tacit understanding between them was extraordinary. She didn’t have to say a word, and Second Brother understood what she meant.
Although he pinched her arm once, it was still a little numb now.
Li Zheng’s house suddenly welcomed a distinguished guest, as if the air was cramped. Li Zheng led the masters and only Li Zheng’s old wife, Madam Qian, and daughter-in-law, Madam Wu, and five-year-old grandson Li Zhengze were left at home. Madam Qian nervously asked Wang Yanqing to sit down, and shouted to her daughter-in-law: “Hurry up and bring Zheng Zheng and bow to the noble.”
When Wang Yanqing heard this, she hurriedly said: “No Madam, I’m just Master Lu’s maid, not a noblewoman.”
Madam Qian insisted and personally took her grandson over to greet Wang Yanqing. The prefect was the most powerful person in Madam Qian’s cognition and even the prefect respected the young master. The identities of these people were far beyond Madam Qian’s imagination. The seven-rank official in front of the prime minister’s gate and even the maid beside the big master were made of gold.
Wang Yanqing got up quickly and stopped Madam Qian’s movements: “What are you doing, Madam. Get up quickly, don’t scare the child.”
Wang Yanqing moved her grandson, and Madam Qian finally stopped. Wang Yanqing secretly breathed a sigh of relief and she motioned Madam Qian and Madam Wu to sit down quickly. After tossing for a long time, they were finally able to sit down and talk.
After such a tug, a thin layer of sweat broke out on Wang Yanqing’s body. She took out a handkerchief to wipe her sweat, and Madam Wu hurriedly said: “Wait a minute, Miss, I’ll find a fan…”
After speaking, Madam Wu lifted the curtain and ran into the back room, pinged and ponged for a while, and brought out a silk fan: “Miss, this is something my parents gave me. It is said to be the style from the capital, and even in the capital, there is nothing more fashionable than this. I haven’t used it yet, you can use it first.”
Wang Yanqing thanked her and got up to take it. She glanced at the pattern on the silk fan. It was indeed the style of the capital, but it was from last year, and a new pattern had already become popular this year. Wang Yanqing did not reveal it, and smiled in surprise: “It really is a new style. Is Madam Wu’s family from the capital, that the news is so well-informed?”
What Wang Yanqing wanted to speak about was a hot topic. She needed to discretely inquire about information and she definitely couldn’t ask about someone’s secrets right away. It was inevitable that she had to start by talking about something nice. Her family’s home, the capital, was a good entry point.
Madam Wu showed a content smile, which was expected by Wang Yanqing, but unexpectedly, a complex expression quickly flitted across Madam Qian’s face.
Her eyelids were slightly squinted, and the whites of her eyes turned up, as if disdainful. But there was a smile on her lips, which was fleeting.
This discovery surprised Wang Yanqing very much. Wang Yanqing quietly paid attention to Madam Qian, and at the same time heard Madam Wu’s efforts to restrain herself, but in the end, she still couldn’t help showing off: “My parents’ family have acquaintances in the capital who do some small business. I’ve said several times that I can’t use these delicate things, but my brother always brings them for me.”
Wang Yanqing nodded with a smile: “So it’s like that. Madam Wu, your family is so kind to you.”
Sure enough, after Wang Yanqing said this, the disdain on Madam Qian’s face deepened. As a mother-in-law, it was normal to dislike a daughter-in-law showing off her family, but her expression should be anger or disgust, why was it disdain?
From what Wang Yanqing saw, Li Zheng family’s wealth was not strong enough to feel despised by their daughter-in-law’s family who could resell goods from the capital, right? Moreover, when Madam Qian heard her daughter-in-law say that her family was rich, her eyes were disdainful, but there was an uncontrollable smile at the corner of her mouth.
What was she laughing at?
Wang Yanqing murmured silently in her heart, it was a surprise that there was a breakthrough so soon.
Madam Wu was so excited to talk about her parents’ family, but was interrupted by Madam Qian without being able to speak: “It is the seventh month, and in two months, it should be time for Qi’er to take the exam.”
Madam Qian’s words were inserted very abruptly and Madam Wu paused. Wang Yanqing smiled and asked: “Is the Madam talking about your son? I heard that your son’s grades in the county school are very good, he must be among the best this autumn.”
This was Madam Qian’s favorite topic and she immediately chattered about her son Li Qi, while the smile on Madam Wu’s face froze like a paper flower. At this time, Li Zhengze ran in to play with his mother. Madam Wu pushed her son’s hand away, and said in a low voice: “Don’t make trouble, don’t you see the distinguished guest?”
Li Zhengze was rejected by his mother and ran out sullenly. Madam Qian couldn’t stand that her grandson was unhappy, so she hurriedly called out “sweetheart” and chased after him.
After Madam Qian went out, Madam Wu smiled apologetically at Wang Yanqing: “Miss, don’t be offended, my mother-in-law is old, and she likes to talk about old sesame seeds and rotten millet when she meets everyone.”
Li Zheng and Madam Qian were extremely proud of their scholar son, even if he failed the test repeatedly, they felt he would definitely pass the exam this year. However, Madam Wu realized early on that Li Qi was not material for studying, and that his talents in this life had come to an end, and he would never be able to pass the imperial examination. However, Li Qi had a high opinion of himself and refused to go home to farm or find work in the city. He chanted those sour poems all day long, and Madam Wu had long complained about her husband.
Wang Yanqing listened with a smile and asked a few questions from time to time, but did not get involved in the contradicting views between mother and daughter-in-law. It wasn’t very good to say it like this, but talking bad about someone together was definitely one of the fastest ways for two strangers to get closer. Even if Wang Yanqing didn’t answer, Madam Wu quickly became close to Wang Yanqing.
After Wang Yanqing finished thinking it over, she said: “Madam, there is no need to worry. Scholar Li has a great reputation, so you don’t have to worry about food and clothing in this life. What more, it is fortunate that he has a reputation, otherwise your family would also be conscripted to do hard labor this time, and Li Qi and Li Zheng might not have been able to return.”
If you are enjoying the novel, please support this translation and get direct access to new releases by reading it at the translator’s original website: https://justforfuntrans.com
Madam Wu sighed when she heard this, and said: “Isn’t it. It’s a blessing in disguise.”
“How can this be a blessing in disguise?” Wang Yanqing said with a smile, “It was a coincidence, and destined to happen.”
Wang Yanqing noticed that Madam Wu’s lips pouted slightly. She picked up the fan, and slowly shook it: “That’s true. Among other things, Li Qi was always very lucky.”
Judging from her tone, she seemed to be resentful towards her husband and her in-laws. Wang Yanqing’s eyes moved slightly, and she took a look outside. Seeing that Madam Qian took her grandson out to play, she changed her expression into a sad face, and sighed deeply: “Things in this world are always so unreasonable. The rich have been rich for generations, but the unfortunate have become more and more unfortunate. Madam Wu, your husband is famous and you have a smart and well-behaved son. You don’t have to worry for the rest of your life. If you changed places with a woman from another family, you would to pay taxes again, and the if the family lost their men, what would you do for your livelihood in the future?”
Wang Yanqing let out a long sigh, but from the corner of her eye, she kept her focus on Madam Wu. When Madam Wu heard these words, she lowered her eyes and pursed her lips unconsciously.
Wang Yanqing recognized it almost immediately, she was feeling guilty. Guilt was an emotion that occured only to people with a high sense of morality. When a person felt guilty, they were most inclined to create self-punishment that benefited others and harmed themselves.
Wang Yanqing calmly took advantage of her guilt: “Fortunately, they received silver taels from the county government. Although the two most important pillars of the family are missing, they have money in hand, so they can take care of things for a few years. I just don’t know what they will do after the money is spent.”
Madam Wu lowered her head and didn’t answer. Wang Yanqing held her hand and said with a smile: “It’s all thanks to them meeting a good person like Li Zheng. I heard that Aunt Liu’s family went to the county government several times to appeal for grievances, but they were ignored. They annoyed the county magistrate and were almost tortured. But it was still Li Zheng who came forward to fight for funeral expenses to give the villagers, so that these orphans and widowed mothers would have some money to survive. Li Zheng is a kind-hearted person, friendly to the village, and if those men who died in the flood knew what he did, they would definitely be grateful to him. It is a blessing that your son was reborn in such a family.”
“What blessing is it to be born in this family!” Madam Wu was overtook with emotions, she took a deep breath, bowed her head and said, “Sorry, I lost my temper.”
“What happened?” Wang Yanqing looked at her with concern, “Don’t worry, I also work as a maid for others, so I understand these sufferings. Did your in-laws treat you harshly?”
These words had been held back in Madam Wu’s heart for a long time. Today, she somehow felt a surge of energy and following this impulse, she let out the the suffocation she felt from the past in an aggrieved breath: “It’s not that they treated me harshly. After all, Li Zheng’s family has their dignity. But their family never treated me as one of their own, and gave Zhengze all the good things around me. They even told Zhengze not to tell me about it. Psht, who cares?”
Once emotions find an outlet, it is difficult to stop them later. Wang Yanqing looked disbelieving and asked: “Really? I thought Li Zheng was warm-hearted, serious and responsible, and the madam is also a straightforward person. How could she say such things in private?”
“They are used to putting on a show.” Seeing that Wang Yanqing didn’t believe it, Madam Wu was eager to prove herself, and like spilling beans from a can, she began speaking ill of her parent-in-laws: “Miss Wang, I will only tell you this. Don’t look at my parent-in-laws pretending to be like a gods on the outside. In fact, the villagers were missing out on a large amount of the funeral expenses issued by the county government.”
Wang Yanqing covered her mouth in surprise. She wondered if her acting was too exaggerated, and continued to ask exaggeratedly: “There is such a thing?”
“There really is.” Madam Wu said, “My mother-in-law is such a stingy person. Recently, she suddenly became willing to buy meat and when I accidentally dropped a bowl, but she didn’t break out in anger. She instead said to just go buy a new one. Two days ago, I bumped into her secretly telling Zhengze that all the money in the family would belong to him in the future, and telling Zhengze not to tell me in every possible way.”
Madam Wu rolled her eyes forcefully as she spoke, and said with a sneer: “If this isn’t their ill gotten gains, what else could it be?”
As long as they lived under the same roof, no matter how cautious they were, they would inevitably reveal clues. What more, even if you didn’t talk about money, it would be shown in your behavior and attitude.
Madam Wu discovered that her father-in-law and mother-in-law seemed to have received a large sum of money recently, while their family did not recieve any income. The only other event was that many people died in the village recently. If this wasn’t greed for the pensions given by the government for the deceased, what else could it be?
Wang Yanqing suddenly realized that Li Zheng’s family had made a fortune recently and wanted to hide it from their daughter-in-law, but they didn’t expect Madam Wu to secretly overhear it. In this way, the mother and daughter-in-law’s interaction just now could be fully explained.
Holding her breath in her heart, Madam Wu deliberately showed off her maiden family’s wealth in front of others. Madam Qian knew how much money her family had saved, so she was very disdainful of Wu’s maiden family’s so-called family background. The corner of Madam Qian’s mouth couldn’t keep from smiling, because she felt that she was better than Madam Wu, and she didn’t bother to expose it, so she was secretly happy.
Now she got a very important clue. Li Zheng’s family made a fortune that could not be revealed to others. She didn’t know where it came from, but it was certain that the amount was not small, at the least, it far exceeded the income of ordinary people. Wang Yanqing was thoughtful, and slowly inquired about another matter: “I didn’t know there was such a thing, the second elder really doesn’t look like this kind of person. I heard that someone went missing nearby. Could it be that the missing person’s family, is looking for someone in the village and sent a reward?”
Madam Wu cut her voice disdainfully: “Recently, those who got lost were either orphans, widowers, or elderly rogues. They didn’t even have anyone in their families. No one cared if they got lost. Who would pay to find them?”
Wang Yanqing was surprised: “They were all orphaned, widowed, or old and weak? Oh my, I just saw Zhengze dragging the madam out. They are a child and an elderly. They will be fine outside, right?”
When Madam Wu heard this, she also became worried, she stood up and looked out: “It shouldn’t be possible, I haven’t heard of any of children or women going missing.”
Regarding her son, Madam Wu couldn’t sit still anymore, and hurriedly said: “Miss, you sit here, I’m going out to find Zhengze, please excuse me.”
If you are enjoying the novel, please support this translation and get direct access to new releases by reading it at the translator’s original website: https://justforfuntrans.com
Wang Yanqing hurriedly said “no problem” and urged Madam Wu to go quickly.
After Madam Wu went out, Wang Yanqing was the only one left in the room. She glanced out of the window, got up quietly, and looked around the room.
She rummaged through places that might have hidden something, and then carefully put them back in their place. Thanks to many years of martial arts practice, her hearing was sharper than others. When she heard the sound of chaotic footsteps outside, she immediately put the things back together, sat back in her original position, and calmly picked up the fan.
She had just flapped her fan twice, when Madam Wu’s voice sounded outside the window: “How many times have I told you, don’t go near the river. There are monsters at the bottom of the river, be careful or they will drag you down and eat you! ”
Madam Qian’s sharp voice sounded: “If you want to speak, just speak, why are you scaring my precious boy.”
Wang Yanqing smiled slightly when she heard the bickering between the mother and daughter-in-law.
Wang Yanqing “nourished her health” at Li Zheng’s house and soon it was almost noon. The people who had gone out had not returned, so Wang Yanqing had to eat at Li Zheng’s house. Madam Qian and Madam Wu warmly entertained Wang Yanqing, and after the meal Wang Yanqing offered to help, but was stopped by Madam Qian: “Miss, you are a distinguished guest, how can I let you do such a thing? Just rest in the hall.”
Madam Wu also said: “Yes, Miss Wang, you are not feeling well, you shouldn’t touch the water. I’m used to this, and I’ll pack it up in a while.”
Wang Yanqing stopped insisting, and said: “Okay, thank you.”
While Madam Wu was washing dishes and cleaning the table outside, Madam Qian carried her grandson into the house to sleep. Wang Yanqing sat in front of the window, leaning against the edge of the window, fanning herself slowly. She looked at the dazzling white sunlight outside, and couldn’t help thinking, where were Second Brother and the others now?
Running around under such hot sun, she didn’t know how they would eat at noon?
Madam Qian coaxed her grandson to sleep, but the five-year-old was much more energetic than the old woman. Finally, Madam Qian fell asleep, while Li Zhengze’s eyes were still moving. Li Zhengze quietly crawled out of his grandmother’s arms, slid down to put on his shoes, and ran out.
Looking at these set of actions, he was obviously used to this.
After Madam Wu packed up lunch, she saw her son squatting in the corner playing, so she rushed him back to sleep. Wang Yanqing said: “Madam Wu, go and rest. I can’t sleep, so I will just watch him here.”
Madam Wu was a little hesitant, but Wang Yanqing said: “It just so happens that I like children very much, so I’m very happy.”
There is a old saying that if a childless woman huged more boys, she would be able to give birth to a boy in the future. Madam Wu speculated about Wang Yanqing’s identity for a long time, but she no longer doubted it, and went back to sleep by herself.
She was different from Wang Yanqing. She woke up early in the morning to attend to housework and serve her in-laws. She had been cooking and cleaning just now, and she was already tired after the morning. Li Zhengze was squatting under the eaves playing with rocks, while Wang Yanqing leaned against the window and watched him play. After a while, Wang Yanqing said: “You can’t throw like that.”
Li Zheng glanced at Wang Yanqing and ignored her. Wang Yanqing took a black bean from the table, flicked it lightly, and hit it precisely on Li Zhengze’s stone.
Li Zhengze looked back at Wang Yanqing, puffed his face and said: “What’s so great about you, I can do it too.”
Wang Yanqing nodded: “Okay, then let’s compete and see who can shoot the most accurately.”
Wang Yanqing rested one hand on her cheek, leisurely teasing the child. Not surprisingly, Li Zhengze couldn’t beat her at all, and it didn’t take long for him to be convinced by Wang Yanqing. He came over quietly and asked: “How did you do it?”
Wang Yanqing asked slowly: “Do you want to learn?”
Li Zheng nodded vigorously. Wang Yanqing said: “You can learn if you want to, but you have to pay me.”
“It’s money for apprenticeship.” Wang Yanqing said, “I will teach you my craft, but you must also give me your most important thing.”
Li Zhengze, who was only five years old, was exposed to the concept of trading for the first time. He thought about it distressedly, and said: “Just wait, I will go get my jelly beans. You are not allowed to teach anyone else! ”
As soon as Li Zhengze said that, he ran out. Wang Yanqing wondered why he had to go outside to get the jelly beans. She was afraid that something would happen to a single child, so she hurried out with him.
Li Zhengze ran all the way to the river. He squatted beside a willow tree, digging hard on a mound. Wang Yanqing calmly stopped behind him, watching Li Zhengze’s movements patiently.
Li Zhengze dug several holes and finally found his “treasure”. He dug a few stones from the soil, picked the biggest one and handed it to Wang Yanqing, saying: “This is my most valuable thing, I found it after searching in the river for a long time. I will give this to you, and you teach me to play stones.”
Wang Yanqing took the wet stone, looked at it, then nodded with a smile: “Okay.”
The child’s heart was pure and sincere, and when she said she wanted payment, he dug out his most cherished object and gave it to Wang Yanqing. Wang Yanqing kept her promise and taught him how to play stones.
Sitting under the willow tree by the river, Wang Yanqing competed with Li Zhengze to see who could throw the stone more accurately, regardless of the soil on the ground. When Lu Heng came back along the embankment, the first scene he saw was such a picture.
Prefect Cheng was already exhausted, so he vaguely saw someone under the shade of willows in front of him, and asked: “Who is that?”
The attendant narrowed his eyes and said: “It seems that a woman and child are playing with stones.”
After hearing this, Prefect Cheng was very surprised: “It’s a hot day. It is fine for children to be ignorant, but an adult is also crazy enough to be out here?”
The attendant showed an indescribable and inexplicable expression, and cast a veiled glance at Lu Heng: “That seems to be the woman brought by Master Lu.”
Prefect Cheng froze for a moment, then laughed dryly: “Ha ha ha, Madam Lu is really innocent and lively, with a childlike innocence.”
Prefect Cheng was afraid that Lu Heng would be angry, so he deliberately exaggerated Wang Yanqing’s identity. This woman was said to be a maid, but Lu Heng did not forget to take her with him when he went out to handle a case, which showed that she was very favored. Prefect Cheng gave Lu Heng face and called her Madam. He hoped Master Lu would not argue with him for the sake of his praise of this woman.
Lu Heng looked at the green hills and willows in front of him, the sparkling Milky Way, and the woman who was wearing a light-colored dress but sat on the ground unabashedly, as if she hadn’t heard what Prefect Cheng said before, and said with a smile: “Indeed, her childlike innocence has not vanished.”