TIGR Chapter 74
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 74 Ancestral Residence
Lu Heng released a small sigh. At first, he just had a flash of inspiration and wanted to deceive a younger sister for his enjoyment. But later, the game got bigger and bigger. He was forced to lie to Empress Jiang, and now he had to lie to his mother and his family. Lu Heng felt guilty for a moment, then said without changing his face: “In this, I am not filial, please forgive me.”
When Madam Fan heard this, she realized that the situation was not simple, and her face changed slightly: “What’s wrong?”
“I originally wanted to complete the three-year grieving period for Father, but I met a woman last year who was very suitable. Father’s grieving period has not yet passed, so it is not appropriate to make a public announcement. I temporarily brought her by my side in the name of my younger sister, thinking that I will finish the ceremony after the grieving period is over.”
To tell the truth was impossible. Madam Fan’s face couldn’t hide anything and after one meeting, Wang Yanqing would be able to read the clues. Lu Heng could only make up another story, taking advantage of the information gap between Wang Yanqing and Madam Fan, to secretly guide the two parties to show the most reasonable actions.
Lu Heng knew that doing this was not a gentleman’s behavior, but it didn’t matter, he was not a gentleman.
Madam Fan was secretly relieved when she heard Lu Heng’s words. She first rebuked him but then she became overjoyed: “This child. I thought something serious happened. Some time ago, your sister-in-law and I said that it’s not a problem for you to be alone, but actually, it was because you did not want to, so we did not hasten you at home. Although it is filial piety to abide by the rules, there are three ways to be unfilial, and having no descendants is the biggest. Your father worried about you since he was alive. If you get married quickly, he will be really at ease when he learns about it.”
Madam Fan didn’t think it was a big problem for Lu Heng to consider marriage during the grieving period. Observing the grieving period was a requirement of etiquette, but in the eyes of the elders, it was far more practical for children to get married and have grandchildren than to be a vegetarian and cry at the grave.
Lu Heng’s marriage had been Madam Fan’s secret worry for many years. As early as when Lu Heng was seventeen years old, Madam Fan had been making arrangements to choose a wife for Lu Heng. But at that time, Lu Heng was busy preparing for the military entrance examination, and then he went to Lengci Pass to fight the Tatars. After making military achievements, he devoted himself to working in the Imperial Guards. Madam Fan and Lu Song mentioned getting married several times, but Lu Heng rejected them all.
At that time, Madam Fan and Lu Song didn’t know that Lu Heng would have such a great achievement in the future, and since their youngest son had no intention of getting married, both husband and wife were a little worried. However, when it came to the grieving period, whether Madam Fan was willing or not, Lu Heng would have to delay for another three years.
In the blink of an eye, Lu Heng was already twenty-three. He didn’t have a family at this age, and he was simply an outlier among his peers. In a hereditary family like theirs, as soon as a son was born, his future was basically determined. At the latest, he would be engaged to a lady of similar family background and get married. After the age of twenty, their son would be able to continue studying, but Lu Heng didn’t even have a woman around him.
Madam Fan knew that Lu Heng was afraid of danger, but as a mother, she still couldn’t help but feel terrified, and worried that it was because of other reasons.
Fortunately, he was normal. He didn’t marry a wife before, just because he didn’t want to. Now that Lu Heng was finally enlightened, how could Madam Fan have any objections. She couldn’t wait to hurry him in planning a ceremony immediately. If Lu Song knew about this, he would urge Lu Heng to get married quickly too.
Madam Fan released a huge rock in her heart, and curiosity got the upper hand, questions popped up one after another: “What family is she from? What is her last name, where does she live, who is her father and brother?”
With a slight smile on his lips, Lu Heng only revealed the simplest information to Madam Fan: “Her surname is Wang, and her name is Wang Yanqing, you can call her Qing Qing. She is from the Datong Prefecture, and her father and grandfather died on the battlefield. I met her by fate, so I brought her back. It’s just that I was negligent last year, causing her to be besieged by political enemies, and she accidentally bumped her head and doesn’t remember the past. I feel very guilty. I beg you to be considerate of me, and not ask about the past when you see her soon.”
Lu Heng’s words were so affectionate that Madam Fan couldn’t help but feel sad when she heard this. Her father and brother died, and even if her family had property, it could not be passed down to a woman. It seemed that the girl had no help.
Madam Fan didn’t care much about this. Lu Heng didn’t want to get married until he was twenty-three, and now he finally changed mind. Never mind she was an orphan, as long as she was a woman, Madam Fan was very satisfied.
Madam Fan didn’t bother about Wang Yanqing’s family background, but instead asked: “Has she forgotten everything about her past? Is it serious, can it still be cured?”
Amnesia was a rare condition, and Madam Fan had only heard of this case so far. Madam Fan tried to think about it. If she woke up and forgot half her lifespan, she might not even dare to go out by herself. A girl who had no family and no clan was already suffering enough, but she even had no memory.
Madam Fan was worried just thinking about it.
Lu Heng said: “I have found many famous doctors for her, but they said that this condition cannot be cured, so I can only patiently accompany her and let her recover slowly. Mother, your son asks you one thing, just treat Qing Qing as your own daughter, don’t say anything else, and don’t ask her where she came from. Please also relay this to my elder brother and elder sister-in-law after you go back. I will take her for treatment and seek medicine slowly. After she recovers, I will bring a gift to my elder brother and sister-in-law to make up for not meeting them.”
Madam Fan knew that Lu Heng had always been very strong, how could he ever beg others like this? Madam Fan felt sad and immediately agreed: “Okay, I will remind them and make sure not to scare her. You said she is alone and doesn’t remember anything, but she is usually…”
Lu Heng understood Madam Fan’s concerns and immediately said: “She just doesn’t remember the past, the rest is no different from a normal person. Her basic necessities of life are arranged by me. Mother and sister-in-law should know.”
Madam Fan secretly heaved a sigh of relief. This kind of condition was inexplicable and amnesia was not the fault of the girl’s family, but if she couldn’t even eat or walk alone, she was afraid it would be troublesome. Fortunately, Wang Yanqing was not incapable. Although in the current situation, they would have to recognize whoever Lu Heng fell in love with.
The Lu family was a family of Imperial Guards, but Lu Heng’s achievements far surpassed that of the Lu family’s ancestors. The combined official positions of their ancestors were not as great as Lu Heng’s alone. Whoever Lu Heng wanted to marry, he would respectfully tell his family and his mother, but it didn’t matter whether Madam Fan agreed or not.
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Madam Fan had been ruled by Lu Heng since he was a child, so naturally she would not disobey her son in such a place. She responded immediately: “Don’t worry, I understand. It is not easy for a woman in this world. She is a lonely girl with no memory, more like duckweed. You need to take care of her more, seek more medical advice, and let her recover her memory as soon as possible. Several doctors have come to the Chengtian Mansion in the past two years, and I heard that their medical skills are not bad. Why don’t I invite the doctor over to take a look?”
Lu Heng’s words just now made Madam Fan sad and moved. How could Madam Fan know that Lu Heng had made it up to lie to her. Lu Heng spoke touching words, but there was no fluctuation in his heart. He hoped that Wang Yanqing would never recover her memory, so why would he seek medicine for her? Lu Heng smiled slightly and said: “Thank you for your kindness mother. If you give me the name, I will send someone to ask.”
When Madam Fan heard this, she had no doubts at all and immediately asked the maid to hand over the name and address of the place to Lu Heng. While mother and son were talking, they already arrived at the main hall of the palace. Lu Heng stopped the topic at the right time and helped Madam Fan inside.
Lu Heng’s people guarded up and down the main hall and the Imperial Guards all stood up and saluted when they saw Lu Heng. The eunuch guarding the hall door also took the initiative to walk down the steps and greet Lu Heng with a smile. Lu Heng nodded lightly, with an indifference on his face that showed he was used to big scenes. Madam Fan’s personal experience made her even more startled by the prosperity of her son’s power.
The East Department and Imperial Guards were rivals. But now, even the eunuchs around the emperor were respectful to Lu Heng.
Madam Fan sighed in both joy and worry.
The officials who asked for an audience had already left, and the emperor was resting in the inner hall. When he heard that Madam Fan was coming, he quickly had someone bring him in.
The palace had known for a long time that Madam Fan was coming. Madam Fan used to be the emperor’s wet nurse, so unlike for foreign officials, the empress, Concubine De, and Concubine Duan were all there. After Madam Fan greeted the emperor, the empress came forward with her concubines and gave Madam Fan a half greeting.
Although Madam Fan avoided the empress’ courtesy, Empress Zhang had to do it for formalities. Nursing mothers were established standards of the court. Whether it was the empress, concubine, or princess, no one personally fed the children and this was regarded as a great discourtesy. As soon as a newborn was born, they needed a wet nurse.
There was a fundamental difference between a wet nurse and a nanny. A nanny was a servant who served others, while a wet nurse was invited to educate the prince as the imperial descent. They must be carefully selected for their appearance, conduct, and family background. Sometimes the little prince spent more time with his wet nurse than his real mother, and their status in the clan was extremely important.
The imprint of breastfeeding was everlasting, even though they hadn’t seen each other in many years, the emperor still felt a kind of closeness when he saw Madam Fan, and hurriedly asked someone to move a seat for her. Madam Fan refused, but finally arranged herself and asked the emperor about his daily life in recent years.
For the emperor, the image of his mother was divided into two parts, the strong and respectable part belonged to Empress Jiang, while the gentle and considerate part belonged to Madam Fan. The emperor had just lost his mother, and now hearing Madam Fan’s gentle voice, heat was rolling in his heart.
The emperor said: “I have Lu Heng to help me in the capital, everything is fine. You live in the Chengtian Mansion, the mountains are long and the rivers are far, you are too lonely. Why don’t you move back to the capital?”
While the emperor spoke to Madam Fan, Lu Heng stood behind her, silent. These words were not discussed in advance, but Lu Heng was not worried. No matter how close Madam Fan and the emperor were, they could tell who the biological child was.
Madam Fan shook her head and said: “I’m getting old, I can’t get used to the climate in the north after all, so it’s good to live in my hometown. Here, I look at the Xing Monarch Mansion every day, just like you and Empress Jiang are still there, so I feel at ease.”
The emperor felt sad when he heard these words and no longer insisted. The emperor looked cunning and wise, but he was actually a very nostalgic person. He could well understand the feeling of longing to return home. Although Empress Jiang married in Anlu, she was originally from the capital, and she did not feel uncomfortable when she returned to Beijing in her later years. Madam Fan was different. She was a native of Anlu, and it was normal for her to not want to leave her homeland.
Madam Fan’s words were half true and half false. On the one hand, she was unwilling to leave her hometown, and on the other hand, she was also avoiding disaster.
From afar the fragrance is sweet, up close it smells bad. If she stayed far away, the emperor would always remember the happiness of his childhood, and Lu Heng could fight in the capital with peace of mind. Madam Fan didn’t want to think like this, but if something happened to Lu Heng, Madam Fan and Lu Wen’s being away from the capital would secure a remaining trace of the Lu family.
After Madam Fan said some homely things to the emperor, she looked at the emperor’s face and said with some relief: “The emperor has become more and more healthy these years, and your complexion is much stronger than when you first went to the capital. The empress lives in heaven and she also can feel at ease.”
The emperor’s weak health had always been a worry for close officials. Fortunately, although his candle was weak, it burned continuously. The emperor went through danger several times and was able to miraculously save himself every time. The emperor also felt that his body was much stronger and he said proudly: “The heavenly master taught the way well and I have gained a lot of knowledge from Taoism. I also have Lu Heng. This time when the fire happened, it was thanks to him.”
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Lu Heng cupped his hands, lowered his eyes, and said: “It’s what an official should do.”
Madam Fan didn’t know the details of the fire, but the few words in the letter had already scared her a lot. Madam Fan sighed: “Many disasters will be followed by many blessings. After this disaster, things will go smoothly in the future.”
The emperor’s heart calmed when he heard these words, and he had another conversation with Madam Fan for a while, and when the sky got darker, Madam Fan asked to be excused. The emperor met many people today, and he was really tired, so he didn’t have the urge and rather said to Lu Heng: “You haven’t been home for many years, so you don’t need to guard today. Go back early.”
Lu Heng never returned to his hometown since he went to Beijing at the age of eleven. The emperor returned to their family’s palace to feel nostalgic, and Lu Heng also wanted to talk to his family. The emperor took the initiative to give Lu Heng a vacation, and Lu Heng thanked him, but he did not leave in a hurry after he came out. Instead, he sent someone to send Madam Fan back home and went to check the defense of Xing Monarch’s mansion himself.
While Lu Heng was inspecting everything, someone walked up behind Lu Heng silently and whispered in his ear: “Chief Commander, the arrangements have been made.”
Lu Heng was promoted from the third rank to the second rank, and his official title and salary increased, but his position remained the same, and he still held the real commanding power of South Fusi. Lu Heng nodded slightly, checked the rest of the itinerary, and only left the house when it was methodically arranged.
Lu Heng would definitely not let Wang Yanqing go back to the Lu family before he had arranged it. If his mother or elder sister-in-law asked the wrong question, Lu Heng would be exposed. Chengtian Mansion had plenty of space, so Lu Heng first placed Wang Yanqing in a clean courtyard and would take Wang Yanqing home after all the flaws in his ancestral house were dealt with.
Lu Heng was the emperor’s piloting associate and he was very particular about it. This kind of last-minute transfer of affairs was common, and Wang Yanqing didn’t suspect anything at all. She rested easily in the yard, and when it was dark, Lu Heng personally came to pick her up and they left.
Wang Yanqing was a little nervous for some reason, and asked: “Brother, are we going to see Auntie right now?”
Lu Heng glanced at her and said with a smile: “You are still calling her Auntie?”
Wang Yanqing blushed and bit her lip, not knowing what to say. Lu Heng clenched her hand tightly, and took the initiative to relieve her: “It’s okay, I won’t force you, you can call her whatever you want. Mother was very sorry when she learned that you lost your memory, and you haven’t been able to sleep well for the past few days. After all, it’s all my fault. So when we go back later, don’t mention the past, so as not to make her feel uncomfortable.”
How could Wang Yanqing refuse. She nodded immediately: “Okay.”
Monarch Xing’s Mansion was not far from the Lu family’s ancestral house, and the carriage arrived quickly. Lu Heng didn’t notify them that he was coming back in advance, and no one greeted them at the door. Of course, Lu Heng did it on purpose, he avoided the crowd, and personally took Wang Yanqing to the courtyard where he lived before the age of eleven: “Father picked you up after he went to the capital, so there is no room for you in Anlu. I’m not here all year round, sister-in-law is in charge of the family in the ancestral house, and it’s not good to cause trouble for sister-in-law. So I will have to trouble you to stay with me these few days.”
Lu Heng was always capable of expressing his selfishness in a high-sounding manner. Wang Yanqing understood his careful intentions and didn’t think it was wrong.
Probably because this was Lu Heng.
While walking, Wang Yanqing took the opportunity to quietly look around. This house occupied a larger area than Lu Heng’s house in the capital, but the decoration was not as gorgeous as the capital, and everything held a sense of simplicity from the past. Wang Yanqing thought of the six generations of people living here. Lu Heng was born and raised here before she knew him.
Some unspeakable feelings arose in her heart. She quietly grabbed Lu Heng’s sleeve, and asked in a low voice: “Brother, I don’t remember Auntie and Eldest Brother at all…”
When Lu Heng heard Wang Yanqing calling Lu Wen, Eldest Brother, the tip of his eyebrows twitched uncontrollably. At that moment, Lu Heng was extremely grateful that he coaxed Wang Yanqing to change his address. If she still called him “Second Brother” now, Lu Heng would definitely throw up.
Lu Heng smiled gently, but held Wang Yanqing tightly with the other hand: “It’s okay, you have me. You were not familiar with Eldest Brother before, and you usually followed me.”
“Really?” Wang Yanqing asked earnestly, “Brother, besides you, who else am I close to? I have lost my memory, so I have to explain it to others quickly, or it will cause misunderstandings.”
Lu Heng smiled: “You weren’t familiar with anyone else, only me.”
Wang Yanqing raised her eyebrows suspiciously: “Really?”
“Yes.” Lu Heng said, “The age gap between you and Eldest Brother was too large. When you came, he was about to marry his wife, what could he say to you. Our family had no girls except you, so you could only follow me.”
Wang Yanqing thought that Lu Heng was the youngest son in the family, and he was five years older than her, and in a moment she completely understood. Lu Heng caught a glimpse of Wang Yanqing’s expression, suddenly put his hand on her waist, and twisted it secretly: “What are you thinking about?”
Lu Heng was very skillful in his strikes, and when Wang Yanqing was caught by him unexpectedly, she almost cried out. She forcibly held back and glared at Lu Heng bitterly, but dared not speak.
Lu Heng was indeed five years older than her, but she didn’t say he was old.
Lu Heng endured with an aggrieved breath, thinking that there was no hurry, and they would settle the score at night. He still smiled and introduced the members of the Lu family to Wang Yanqing: “The family members are very simple. Mother, Madam Fan, has a good temperament and no longer cares about things; Eldest Brother, Lu Wen, married his wife, Madam Chu, and they have a three-year-old son named Lu Zhan under their knees. Eldest Sister-in-law Chu is the daughter of Wei Zhenfu of Chengtian Mansion, and she and her eldest brother were the family babies. Now they are in charge of the whole family’s livelihood, and they are still easy to get along with.”
Lu Heng briefly introduced the situation of the Lu family, and Wang Yanqing quickly took note. She recited it silently, a little frustrated in her heart: “We have been together for so many days and nights, and I don’t know any of them…”
Lu Heng touched her head with a smile and said: “It’s okay.”
They don’t know you either.