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堂哥 tang ge: father’s brother’s (older) son
Chapter Fifty-Seven: Showing Weakness
Hua Yi Liu leaned back against the bedframe, her body thin and withered. The room was cool and quiet, as though she was the only person in the assistant minister fu. It was frighteningly quiet. Her servants who came as part of her dowry had been taken away by her good mother-in-law with all kinds of excuses, not leaving her any face at all.
She looked at the slightly dark sky outside. It appeared as though it was going to rain again, but what did the weather have to do with her? She was in her confinement period, restricted from even going out and having the wind blown on her, not to mention returning to her paternal family.
Paternal family? Hua Yi Liu thought of her paternal family and felt a wave of hatred. If it wasn’t for Mother who wanted her father-in-law to help her younger brother on his scholarly path, she would not have married such an absurd person, and ended up so terribly.
A wave of footsteps came from outside the door. Hua Yi Liu looked dully at the servant girls who pushed the door open and entered. The servant girls held jewelry and bright clothing in their hands, and had slightly nervous and respectful expressions.
Weren’t these the servant girls who were well-trusted by her mother-in-law? What had frightened them so?
“Young Mistress, Taitai has ordered us servants to serve you in attiring and seeing guests.” The leading servant girl curtsied at Hua Yi Liu and indicated for the people behind her to help Hua Yi Liu change her clothing.
Hua Yi Liu’s mind shifted slightly. Had someone come to support her? Was it her father or her younger brother?
Or was it… Hua Xi Wan?
She knew very well that someone who could make the Zhou Family this nervous would be a person of great status. Her father had a good reputation in court, but it was not enough to make the Zhou Family so wary.
But how many people were willing to support her now? Her maternal family had received a title a few days ago, but that was done because the Emperor wanted to stop the mouths of the public and used it to placate her maternal grandfather who had just lost his only son. In reality, her maternal family just received an empty title.
Then it was either Eldest Uncle or Hua Xi Wan who came.
Hua Yi Liu did not resist. She allowed these servant girls to make her up and felt slightly urgent inside. She wanted to immediately leave this den of wolves and never return.
At this time, the main gates of the Zhou Family were wide open and everyone of status had come out to welcome the wang fei. After the entire fu knelt down in front of Hua Xi Wan’s carriage, Hua Xi Wan finally said, “Assistant Minister Zhou is a great scholar and should not give such a major greeting. Chief Steward Mu, help Assistant Minister Zhang up.”
The “great scholar” caused Assistant Minister Zhou’s face to redden in embarrassment. He usually did not pay attention to the matters of the inner compound. Even though he knew that Zhou Yun Heng was slightly outrageous in his conduct, he had not thought that his son dared to commit such a reckless action. With how matters stood now, this was not a marital coupling to tie together the families, but to create hatred.
Not even speaking of how much power the Hua Family had, and the prestigious families that had marital relationships with the Hua Family, just this beautiful wang fei about whom all in the Great Zhao Dynasty knew was someone whom their Zhou Family could not afford to offend.
Who did not know how much Xian Wang loved this wang fei? Offending this person was offending Wang Ye. Where could their Zhou Family afford to offend someone as noble as Xian Wang?
When he thought about this, Assistant Minister Zhou glared at Zhou Furen beside him. This ignorant and stupid woman dared to aid and tolerate Yun Heng doing such an evil thing. If the Zhou Family could not resolve this matter well, their estate of almost a hundred years would die in the hands of that evil creature.
“Official Zhou, please rise.” Mu Tong walked in front of Assistant Minister Zhou with a smile and reached out to help him. However, the other did not dare to really accept Mu Tong’s assistance. He said a word of thanks and then stood up. Because his rise was so sudden, he stumbled a few steps.
The nephew from the Zhou Family was behind him and saw this. He reached out to support Assistant Minister Zhou. “Eldest Uncle, careful with your feet.”
Mu Tong looked at this nephew of the Zhou Family. He raised his folded hands in a bow towards Assistant Minister Zhou and then walked back to stand next to the carriage.
“This subject was not good in teaching the son, and not strict in managing the family, and feels great guilt. This one does not have the face to accept the label of a great scholar. My sinful son was daring in his action, and if the in-laws want to punish him, do so according to your mood. This one only asks that the in-laws can look on the face of this old man and leave the son alive,” Assistant Minister Zhou said and turned to bow towards Hua Qing Mao who was a junior.
Hua Qing Mao was not willing to accept this bow. He had come with the intentions of settling the score of how the Zhou Family had slighted his sister, and he would not forgive Zhou Yun Heng so easily. So when Assistant Minister Zhou was bowing towards him, he moved aside and then made a deep bow. “This junior does not dare to accept such a great bow. My Hua Family is a poor and small household, and only asks for justice.”
Assistant Minister Zhou grimaced and knew that the Hua Family was not willing to settle. If the Hua Family was a poor and small household, then there would not be many prestigious families in Jing.
“No matter what, this old man will first apologize to the in-laws. The wind is great outside—please, Wang Fei, Master Hua, come into the fu.”
Hua Qing Mao did not speak or move. He was waiting for Hua Xi Wan’s response.
“If that is so, then we can only trouble the fu. We will immediately discuss the matter of the divorce, but there is no reason to discuss it at the gates.”
The voice that came from inside the carriage was still soft and slow, but the words that were spoken did not show any sign of retreat.
At this time, Hua Chang Bao arrived on a carriage. Hua Chang Bao was the shizi of Yi’an Marquis Fu, the future Yi’an Marquis. His appearance represented the position of the entire Hua Family.
Seeing this, Assistant Minister Zhou sighed inside. With today’s events, the Zhou Family did not just lose face—they would probably even lose their hundred years’ reputation.
After offending the Hua Family, they would have a difficult time surviving in this Jing in the future.
“Greetings to Wang Fei.” Hua Chang Bao was Hua Xi Wan’s elder brother, but right now, there was a difference in status between them. After he got off the carriage, he bowed towards Hua Xi Wan.
Seeing this, Mu Tong hurried forward to hold Hua Chang Bao up. Who did not know of the good relationship between the three children of the Yi’an Marquis? If he really watched and stood by as Hua Chang Bao, the elder brother, bowed towards Wang Fei, Wang Fei would probably not feel good inside.
“Brother, what are you doing? We are siblings—where is the need for such courtesy?” The wang fei who had remained out of view all this time finally reached out a hand from the carriage. The servants put down the stool, grabbed the reins of the horses, and then went to support her.
When Xian Wang Fei stepped out of the carriage with the help of a green-robed servant girl, people sighed in shock on the inside. Such a beautiful hand, such an exquisite figure! It was a pity that she was wearing a veil and they were unable to see the face of the beauty.
“Wang Fei, masters, come in.” Assistant Minister Zhou’s family did not dare to look, and welcomed Hua Xi Wan into the fu with bowed heads.
The procession walked in, and when they reached the main hall, Hua Xi Wan saw a young person with oily hair and a powdered face kneeling on the ground. The brocade clothing on his body was disheveled, and he was even bleeding from some places. It appeared as though he had just been beaten.
Hua Xi Wan glanced at Assistant Minister Zhou beside her. This man was willing to be vicious and beat Zhou Yun Heng to this state. Was it really because he was angry at the conduct of his son or was he just pretending for the sake of appearances?
When those unrelated to the matter left, there were only the three members from the Hua Family, Assistant Minister Zhou, Zhou Furen, and Zhou Yun Heng kneeling on the ground. Hua Xi Wan then allowed Bai Xia and Hong Ying to help her take down the veil. Under the invitation of Assistant Minister Zhou, she sat down on the guest seat. Hua Chang Bao and Hua Qing Mao sat down in order below her.
“Official Zhou, what are you doing?” Hua Xi Wan looked with a neutral smile at Zhou Yun Heng on the ground. “I heard that your fu has a concubine who is well-favored by Master Zhou. I wonder if I have the honor of seeing this beauty.” When she said this, her tone became cold. “At least, let the Hua Family see which person has caused my Hua Family’s daughter to have a miscarriage, and have her servants sent off to the countryside. I wonder what great crime the daughter of the Hua Family has committed to be abused so by your Zhou Family. If the Zhou Family cannot give a reason, then why don’t we take this to the government office? The administrator of Jing City is a great justice and will be able to investigate this matter to the bottom. He will not slight your Zhou Family.”
Seeing Xian Wang Fei suddenly go on the offensive, Assistant Minister Zhou was pushed to the point that he had sweat on his forehead. Zhou Furen was so frightened that her fingers were trembling. Her heart also hurt at seeing her son suffering, and she was also afraid that it would be detrimental to her son’s future prospects if they offended Wang Fei. She could not think of any other solution at this moment and then knelt with a bang beside Zhou Yun Heng. “Wang Fei, subject-wife was not strict in managing the family, and has slighted Daughter-in-law. Please, Wang Fei, looking at the fact that my son and daughter-in-law are married, forgive him this once.”
“Zhou Furen, what are you doing? Does your fu think that this wang fei has come to force you?” Hua Xi Wan’s pale hand raised the lid of her teacup and then slammed it down. “If that is the case, then this wang fei will not speak at all to prevent any misunderstandings.” After she said this, she turned to Hua Qing Mao to say, “Tang Ge, how about you give this matter to the administrator of Jing to inspect? Tang Jie miscarried without any reason, and her servants either disappeared without a reason or were sent off to the countryside estate. This matter that involves a life should be best given to the government to investigate.”
“Wang Fei, you misunderstand; this subject and Wife do not mean this.” Assistant Minister Zhou saw that Xian Wang Fei was already angry and hurried forward to say, “This subject will get someone to bring that concubine immediately.”
Hua Xi Wan held the teacup and did not speak. Hua Chang Bao trailed a finger along the rim of a teacup with a faint smile. His gaze moved around the decorations in the main guest hall as though the objects were rarities in the world and were worthy of this heir to the marquis fu to look at closely.
When Zhou Yun Heng heard that his father was bringing his most beloved concubine, he instantly became excited. He could not keep his apologetic posture and raised his head to make a fuss. When his gaze landed on Hua Xi Wan who was seated, the anger inside disappeared immediately. His eyes could not leave this Xian Wang Fei.
His gaze was too bold. A blue-robed taijian quickly went in front of him and said with an insincere smile, “This servant sees that Master Zhou does not have good eyesight—is there a need to ask a grand doctor to come take a look?”
Zhou Yun Heng finally realized—the person on the seat was Xian Wang Fei, someone he could not lust for. When he thought of this, he felt slightly regretful. It was such a pity that he could not look longer at such a beauty.
At the side, Hua Chang Bao’s expression darkened and he said coldly, “It seems that the master of your fu has not been educated enough. Assistant Minister Zhou, you should teach him again. Otherwise, it would not be good if he offends any noble personages.”
Assistant Minister Zhou also knew this bad habit of his son and was so angry at seeing his rash action that he went forward and kicked Zhou Yun Heng. “This lowly official will definitely educate this evil creature.”
Hua Chang Bao glanced at Zhou Yun Heng and then elegantly blew at the steam rising from the tea. He became the elegant and silent marquis fu shizi again.
A short while later, the concubine that Zhou Yun Heng favored the most was delivered. She was only wearing poor hemp clothing, and her hair was tied with a blue string. There were bruises on her face, and she did not seem like a favored concubine at all.
Seeing this, Hua Xi Wan smiled. This Assistant Minister Fu was very interesting. Even at this time, they were playing tricks. She wondered who they were acting for.
At this time, a steward hurriedly ran in and said, “Laoye, Furen, Xian Wang Ye has come.”
Translator Ramblings: This is why you want a strong maternal family … … and in-laws.