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[Arc 6: The Case of Xianghe County]
Conceiving a child during the filial mourning period could not be described as a huge matter, but it couldn’t be labelled as a minor one, either. With a bit of caution, the child’s birth date could be falsified, and then things would be done and over with. With a bit of carelessness and no falsification, as long as no one ever complained, it wouldn’t never become a thing, anyway.
Liang Wenhua had been cautious. Following the birth of his son, he had tricked the household register so that even if someone calculated forwards, they wouldn’t find any blemishes. Such a maneuver could only coax ordinary folk, however; if the Brocade Guard or two Depots wanted to investigate, they would be able to determine even how old his own mother had been when she started speaking, to say nothing of this inside information.
Anyone in the capacity of a Dynasty official had to pay particular attention to their reputation. Whether it was a real or a fake one didn’t matter — as long as no one denounced you, you’d be fine. Once someone did, though, that official needed to take responsibility and stay at home in wait to be dealt with. Those were the rules.
Tang Fan barely managed steady his breathing. “You did it?”
“I wanted to, but, unfortunately, it was snatched,” Wang Zhi said sullenly. “That bloke Sui Zhou sent people to suss it out.”
Starting from the instance Tang Fan had given him ideas through Pan Bin, he had owed Tang Fan many favors. Even though the other was only a minor, fifth-rank official, he had helped him with work again and again. Wang Zhi was not a kindhearted person, but he was self-proud, and unwilling to be subjected to others’ grace to no purpose.
As was said, debts of money were easy to repay, while debts of favors were hard. Against his expectations, he had never been able to find a chance to pay Tang Fan back. There was no way to restore him to his original post as of right now, but Wang Zhi’s capabilities were more than enough for getting revenge against Liang Wenhua.
And yet, someone else had been a step faster than him. How could he not grumble about it?
Tang Fan gave an oh of affirmation, heart warm. He knew that Sui Zhou must have taken revenge against Liang Wenhua over his dismissal. Since they had a good friendship, the former had needed to avoid conflict of interest and could not directly report as much, thus why he had gotten Shangguan Yong for the denouncement.
As he wasn’t at the bureau, Tang Fan’s information flow was not so comprehensive. “As far as I’m aware, Shangguan Yong and the Brocade Guard aren’t friendly. Why was he willing to do this?”
“He’s from Huating’s Songjiang Prefecture,” Wang Zhi answered simply.
Tang Fan immediately saw the light — the reason was none other than that Minister Zhang, booted to Nanjing by the Head Vizier, was from Songjiang! Shangguan Yong was avenging Zhang Ying!
“Shangguan Yong is from Zhang Ying’s hometown, and is also his junior. He had frequent contact with him,” Wang Zhi went on. “He dares not attack Wan An, but he still had the courage to denounce Liang Wenhua. I never knew that Sui Guangchuan’s learned how to get someone else to kill for him, too!”
“What about Liang Wenhua, then? He’s reflecting upon his actions at home, surely?”
Wang Zhi chuckled. “As if! These couple of days have really been exciting! That guy’s shameless — instead of staying at home, he insisted upon heading into the bureau every day, but the more he did that, the harsher everyone else criticized him. The censors are bored all day and keep on the lookout for any cracks in people’s eggshells, like a bunch of flies, so how could they ever let a situation like that slip past? The lot of them swarmed to denounce Liang Wenhua, ultimately alarming even His Majesty. Wan An could do nothing but transfer him to an abroad post for the time being.”
Seeing his schadenfreudian expression, Tang Fan had to make a guess. “In Nanjing?”
Wang Zhi rubbed his hands as he chortled. “But of course! He’s gone to keep Old Man Zhang company! Enemies meeting face-to-face, eyes going exceptionally red — who knows how they’re going to duke it out!”
Tang Fan shook his head, thinking to himself that that really was ‘exciting’.
Still, no matter how much it was, he couldn’t exactly see it for himself. At the very least, with this happening, Liang Wenhua’s Minister dream was definitely hopeless.
The gap between Wang Zhi and Shang Ming was that the latter was now relying on Wan An, while the former found Wan An’s clique an eyesore. Liang Wenhua was one of Wan An’s huge helpers, so now that he had been done away with, Wang Zhi felt completely happy to watch the excitement.
“Eunuch Wang, your own circumstances are now a bit unclear,” Tang Fan warned.
Wang Zhi was puzzled. “Unclear, how?”
“You can’t tell?” Tang Fan mocked. “In the eyes of others, you’re Consort Wan’s, and Wan An clings to her. Now that Liang Wenhua has been devalued, it would be reasonable to say that you’d sympathize, but you’re instead happy to watch the flames. That won’t do, will it?”
Wang Zhi rolled his eyes, not saying a thing. Tang Fan’s following words were not a joke at all, however. “Because Wan An shares the Consort’s surname, he’s claimed being a relative of hers. To say it plainly, since he’s sitting stably in his Head Vizier position, it isn’t rare for people to try to cling to him. Now that Shang Ming is in alliance with Wan An, that’s basically saying that they’re in the same faction. What about you, then? You hate Shang Ming and don’t look favorably upon Wan An, but you’re not standing on Huai En’s side, either. Moreover, the Consort doesn’t feel as close to you as she once did. Your situation can be described in two words.”
Tang Fan saying them was unneeded; those words had already showed up in Wang Zhi’s heart. He got a chill of terror, his frostily arrogant expression becoming slightly unsettled.
In regards to Tang Fan’s previous plan, he had felt it to be reasonable and planned to execute it. In contrast, while going down this discussion about Liang Wenhua, he only felt his sense of crisis increase by a hundredfold. He was practically sitting on pins and needles, itching to run into the palace straightaway — but how could he? Consort Wan would find an excuse to not see him, which was already an obvious portent.
His brow tightly furrowed as he gripped his armrests, face as sunken as water. A short while later, he stood up, then solemnly bowed towards Tang Fan. “Please instruct me, Mr. Tang.”
Woah. He had gone from calling his name out directly, to promoting him up to ‘Mister,’ like a teacher. That kind of treatment was simply impeccable!
It also reflected that Wang Zhi was not someone that couldn’t ever set aside his posturing; he just needed to see whether his counterpart was worthy of it or not, first.
A model pragmatist, really.
Tang Fan also stood up to help him up. “You don’t need to do that, Eunuch Wang,” he said warmly. “I’ve already clearly indicated my attitude on this just from coming to this appointment. Things have not reached a point of no return, either.”
Having acted like that only for Tang Fan to make it stop, Wang Zhi promptly took the out. “Then you can explain this to me as soon as possible.”
Because of the unequal statuses between the two of them, Wang Zhi had always put on some airs in his words and actions to him. It wasn’t until this moment that he genuinely squared up to Tang Fan, regarding him as someone of equal standing.
This stemmed from reality proving that Tang Fan didn’t at all need to rely on him to get to the top. Even though he had no post to take revenge with as of now, he had Sui Zhou as a helper, and with the latter’s capabilities plus heavy value in the Emperor’s eyes, him heading the Brocade Guard was merely a matter of when. In comparison, Wang Zhi himself had come looking for Tang Fan for help several times, and owed him many favors. Not only did the other never come asking to cash them, but pretty much every time there was a meet-up, he would come as long as there was a request for him to. That sort of dependability alone was beyond anyone else’s.
Wang Zhi was not someone with poor eyesight that couldn’t recognize what was good and what was bad, but since he had always had a career log of ascending into high positions while young, that had caused him to forget himself a little. Adding that onto his repeated merit gains from his side-hustle over the past two years, and he had gotten the conceited notion of himself alone being supreme.
Now, that smugness had been smashed by Tang Fan, leaving only a heavy heart.
“I’ve just picked apart what you should do, Eunuch Wang, but you need to have your own main goal in mind.”
“I’m willing to hear the specifics.”
“I know that you can’t get along with Wan An and Shang Ming’s group, but because they’re supported by the Consort, there’s no way that you can’t be on her side. That’s because, in the eyes of Court officials, you are a member of the Palace of Manifest Virtue.”
That Palace was Consort Wan’s bestowed one; its alternative name was what Court officials called it at times.
Wang Zhi did not mince words. “Right. To be honest, my position is quite difficult to navigate nowadays. None of the others rely on or trust me.”
“Regardless of whether it’s Consort Wan or Wan An, they all innately rely upon His Majesty,” Tang Fan clarified. “You only need to be loyal enough to him. Also, like I just said, the Western Depot is a dual-edged sword. If you wield it well, it will bring you ample repayment.”
“I have something else to ask you.”
“After the East Palace case, the Crown Prince knew that I had mediated for him during it, and remembered what good I did. Once, he expressed his thanks through Huai En, and even that old guy’s attitude was a little better towards me.”
Knowing that he definitely wasn’t going to stop there, Tang Fan didn’t interject, listening to him proceed.
“But the Prince is still just a Prince. Each day he isn’t ascended, his status remains as an heir. Consort Wan has never found him pleasing to the eyes, but he’s painstakingly done everything right, so she’s never had the chance to move against him.”
Tang Fan nodded lightly. “From that case, it was seen that the contradictions between them are certain to burst out someday.”
Consort Wan had killed the Crown Prince’s mother, so how could she not have a guilty conscience? As one who judged others based on her own mentality, would she ever believe that he really had no mind for revenge? Regardless of how generous and gentle he behaved, she would forever have a thorn in her heart, and if she could have him replaced, she would at least be able to sleep a little more peacefully.
That case had been a fuse that had unabashedly exhibited the barrier between them where all could see.
“When such a day comes, His Majesty’s decision will not be in the Prince’s favor,” Wang Zhi enunciated. “Do you think that I should be on His Majesty’s side, or the Prince’s?”
That question was a massive baring of the heart. Presumably, he had been fermenting it for a long time before asking about this uncertainty hidden deep inside his heart.
This was also the exact root cause of him hesitating in which stand to make.
At this very moment, they were the only two in the room, but after he said this, he still felt waves of regret. Were Tang Fan to be untrustworthy and pass the words he said today on to a third party after this, his political career would be done for.
“Let’s not speak of things like conscience and Heaven’s law, Eunuch Wang. You may as well think about what would happen if Consort Wan’s idea comes to be, where a different Crown Prince is established that will proceed to become the new ruler — would that have any benefit for you? Would that new ruler remember what good you’ve done? There are plenty of people currently crowded around Consort Wan, not just you, while the present heir is kind and honest. Whoever reaches a helping hand out to him when he’s in trouble is someone whose favor he is bound to keep in mind. To you, who is better and who is worse should not be difficult to choose.”
Wang Zhi pondered this for a short time. He had clearly heard him, but he still needed more time to think such an important matter over. There was no way he could tell Tang Fan his own conclusion right away. “Easy for you to say. You aren’t sitting in my position; you’ve never experienced what it is to walk on thin ice.”
Tang Fan smiled. “It is as they say; able people work harder. How else would your power be greater than mine, and post higher? The more your authority is, the more responsibility you have.”
“Alright, stop it with the babble. Since you’re leaving the capital, take this dinner today as your send-off treat.”
“I’ll tell you a secret.”
“Back after I was granted a post at Hanlin Academy, I secretly went with my fellows to a brothel for drinks and a show.”
Wang Zhi had zero understanding of him. “What did you tell me that for?”
The other laughed lightly. “I’m exchanging a secret for a secret, lest you be uneasy about me and keep worrying that I’ll tell someone about today.”
Truth be told, after interacting with him for so long, Wang Zhi had good trust in Tang Fan’s character — he would never have discussed such in-depth topics with him, otherwise.
…The guy’s weirdness really made him feel a deep sense of powerlessness, though. At least the heavy atmosphere that filled the room had quickly dissipated.
By the time Tang Fan came out of Immortal Cloud, it was already close to second watch.(9-11p)
Upon walking out into the street where Immortal Cloud was located, all the clamor was immediately cast behind him. Silent households were on either side. A few still had spots of light shining through their windows — likely scholars reading by lanternlight, or women rushing to make winter shoes for their relatives.
He no longer had an official’s post, but he still had an official’s status, meaning that night curfew did not apply to him.
Having drunk too much, he had inevitably become a bit tipsy, though his mind was still sober. He walked back slowly, viewing the moon in the sky, and couldn’t help but think back to that one night a few years back; because he had been late in going home after drinking, he had ended up coming across a White Lotus demon pretending to be a ghost, whereupon Sui Zhou had made his timely appearance.
Allowing his thoughts to run amok, he unwittingly caught sight of that familiar alley. Just like the road he arrived from, the surrounding stretch of area was dark, but the difference between them was that there appeared to be someone standing at the mouth of the alley, a lantern held in his hand.
That familiar silhouette caused him to pause slightly, after which he picked up his pace, walking forth.
It was Sui Zhou.
Him standing there for most of the night hadn’t been to feed the mosquitoes, of course.
“I was afraid that you would come back late, and not be able to see the road.”
Tang Fan had come out here with a lantern as well, but after walking all this way, the candle had long dimmed. It wasn’t as bright as Sui Zhou’s, that illuminating flame seeming to warm one’s heart.
Tang Fan chuckled. “Thank you.”
That thanks was not solely for him coming out to meet him. As for what the other reason was, they knew well in their hearts that there were many things did not need explanation.
To elucidate would be to lose meaning.
A gust of wind blew over, making the light in Tang Fan’s hand struggle on its last breath, then extinguish completely.
Sui Zhou’s light source was the last left around. Its soft, dusky glow snaked along the outline of Tang Fan’s chin; his handsomeness defied description.
The feeling had when looking at a beauty under lanternlight was none other than this.
“Come on. Let’s go home.”
When wanting to visit an elder sister, one couldn’t just go over there because they said they were going to. The He family was huge, with three generations under the same roof and a whole slew of relatives; Tang Fan’s visit would represent the prestige of Tang Yu’s natal family, so his gifts needed to be good enough.
Thankfully, the capital was at the Emperor’s feet, and it had everything one could think of. After several days of shopping, he had finally bought everything.
And, after such a plunder, Mister Tang’s savings had regressed by at least a few years.
He had been planning to buy a house, as with how big Ah-Dong was getting, it was no longer appropriate to have her live under the same eaves as Sui Zhou anymore. That wasn’t to say that Sui Zhou had any improper thoughts towards her or anything, but in the eyes of outsiders, men and women were to be separated, and her reputation needed to be considered. Also, regardless of how thick-skinned Tang Fan was, there was no way he could lodge in someone else’s house for all his life.
The money Sui Zhou had helped him save over the past years ought to have been enough to purchase a cheaper capital property, but Sui Zhou was hoping that they could live close together — it would be best to be near so that they could look after each other, of course. Tang Fan had similar thoughts, but, unfortunately, the houses neighboring Sui Zhou’s were too pricey, and unobtainable for a minute.
By coincidence, Sui Zhou’s next door neighbor was an official transferred for elsewhere, and would not be able to even think about coming back for years, so its male owner wanted to sell his capital residence. Even though its price was a bit high, had Tang Fan taken out the full sum of his savings, it would have been just enough to get the sale down in ink.
However, as a result of buying gifts for the He’s, a gap had appeared in his collected money.
As that silver grew wings and flew away, Mister Tang’s heart dripped blood…
Bleeding aside, the gifts had needed to be bought, and had been. He said farewell to Sui Zhou and Ah-Dong, then brought Qian San’r with him out of the capital.
Before his departure, he entrusted Sui Zhou with buying a house for him, and to simply make a decision as he saw fit. As for the issue of money, he’d had to borrow it from Sui Zhou. Since their relationship was so good, it was a ‘what’s yours is mine, what’s mine is yours’-type deal, and he owed so many financial debts, he was pretty used to it, regardless…
Two Brocade Guards were in his convoy as well, one of which was Gonfalon Yan Li, who had been in the group at Gong County.
Tang Fan currently had no post, but Gonfalon was trueseventh-rank. To have a majestic Brocade Guard come play bodyguard for an idler was an affront to him, but there was nothing he could do about it, as Sui Zhou had insisted, giving him just two options:
Either bring them, or don’t go at all.
Helpless, Mister Tang had had no choice but to submit to that blatant abuse of authority.
He wasn’t thinking that Sui Zhou was putting him under surveillance, of course. This was simply how the Bastion Envoy was expressing his concern.
All along the road, the carriage lurched, its wheels rolling as Qian San’r drove it. No people were packed inside it, just gifts.
The other three were riding horses. Having endured the rush at Gong County, Tang Fan had since gotten used to this manner of horse riding. Their current progress was slow, different from their previous hasty spurring; whenever they were tired, they stopped for rest, and whenever they wanted to go, they would proceed onward. With this atmosphere full of idle carefreeness, strain was not even a topic to talk about.
“I’m really sorry to have troubled you with going on a trip with me, Old Yan,” Tang Fan apologized.
Yan Li laughed brightly. “Where did that come from, Sir Tang? I’ve gotten a rare chance laze around that I need to thank you for!”
“I’m no longer a Sir. If you don’t mind, you can switch it out for my courtesy, Runqing.”
Even though Yan Li was a martial artist, he had refinedness within his coarseness. “That won’t do, you’re our Count’s best friend! I’ll just call you Don.”
Tang Fan couldn’t refute him. “If you want.”
Yan Li looked at Tang Fan’s carriage full of gifts. “Are there that many people in the He family?” he wondered. “Didn’t you bring too many gifts, Don?”
Tang Fan shook his head. “That isn’t much at all. It likely isn’t even enough. Xianghe County is small, but the He’s are a local family of officials. Its present patriarch, He Ying, used to be the Left Participator of the Zhejiang Government Office for Continued Development, and is retired. His eldest son, He Yi, is a Palace Honorate, and now works as an out-capital official.”
In this day and age, it wasn’t easy to become a Palace Honorate, and it was even more infinitely difficult for both a father and a son to be officials. Families like the He’s could readily turn into generational official clans. In addition to that, He Ying’s father had also been an official; he had long passed and his time was too ancient, though, so he didn’t need to be mentioned.
Yan Li had a realization. “I kind of remember that name, He Ying. Since you’ve mentioned him, could it be that your sister’s husband is He Yi?”
“No, that’d be He Lin, the second son.”
“Oh. Where is he acting as an official now?”
“So he’s a Provincial Honorate?”
Tang Fan lightly coughed. “He didn’t pass the provincials…”
Yan Li dared not keep asking. This line of questioning was too offensive.
Tang Fan himself revealed the answer of the riddle, though. “My brother-in-law has innate intelligence, and was known as a child prodigy. Perhaps he’s had bad luck, as after repeated exams and repeated failures, he’s currently… just a County Honorate.”
Yan Li’s expression was a bit strange.
County Honorate was the lowest class of honors amongst scholars; if one wasn’t one of them, then they were still a Novice. Competition during imperial exams was fierce, and many scholars might not be able to get the former title all their lives. As for those that did, even if they couldn’t exam their ways into being Provincial Honorates, they could at least be teachers back in their hometowns. That was why, looking at the Great Ming as a whole, the title of County Honorate was still quite rare.
However, that only pertained to average people.
The issue here was that the He’s had three generations of officials. His father had been a third-rank officia and his eldest brother was a Palace Honorate, yet He Lin himself couldn’t test into being just a Provincial Honorate — he was merely a County Honorate, which was worthless.
Yan Li, someone from the capital, especially thought so. He had contact with all sorts of officials on the daily, even having met with the Cabinet Viziers an unknown amount of times. A County Honorate, in his eyes, was really not enough to look at.
Still, in order to avoid embarrassing Tang Fan too much, he tried to console him. “Your brother-in-law is still young. He’s presumably just hit a period of poor luck; when good luck does come, he’ll be unstoppable!”
Tang Fan laughed. “In addition to his big brother that’s in another locale, he has a little brother. I heard that a few years back, he also became a County Honorate, and I have no idea if he’s passed the provincial exams yet. Apart from them, the He’s have many womenfolk, as well as Father He’s brothers and such. The vast majority of the He clan lives in Xianghe and frequently visits each other, so the gifts I’ve prepared are really not much at all.”
Hoping for him to branch away from the other subject, Yan Li nodded along. “I see, I see!”
They chatted on the road, stopping and starting. Because of their slow pace as well as his understanding that his sister could not act easily as a married woman, he didn’t send word ahead of time informing her of when he would be getting there, thinking that it’d be fine for him to just drop in.
On Xianghe County’s end, a family was in the middle of a banquet.
Because the roll-call of this year’s autumnal exams had just been posted and a descendant had passed the provincials, the patriarch was happy, and had ordered a party to celebrate.
Those attending were not commonplace. After the invitations went out, anyone who was someone in the County had come, with even the County Magistrate showing up himself for congratulations. Even those that hadn’t received invitations still tried every method they could think of to sneak in and have a meal — if they could thereby come to get familiar with the host’s family, or the local guardian officials, that would yield great profits for them.
Needless to say, this family had the surname of He, and was exactly the one Tang Yu had married into.
As for who had passed the provincial exams, it wasn’t He Lin, but He Lin’s little brother, the youngest son, He Xuan.
Eldest sons were for keeping up appearances, youngest sons were for doting on. The youngest of the family landing Provincial Honorate made the He elders ecstatic, the home filled with lanterns and decorations to give a festive atmosphere. Many guests had come to sing praises, too, making hands go numb from receiving so many red envelopes. More and more people were seen to come, and some uninviteds that wanted to come fish in troubled waters were quickly barred from entry.
From the main hall to the courtyard, a full dozen tables were arranged. Those inside the hall were naturally major figures of the County; the Magistrate, Deputy, Registrar, and whatnot successively came to sit, as did many respectable gentry, the He’s family friends, in-laws, and so forth. They were arranged according to status, the not-so-important ones allocated to seats in the yard.
The inside of the kitchen was bustling with sky-soaring fires, dishes flowing out like water to the ground. Reportedly, the chefs had been invited over from the capital, the food looking, smelling, and tasting great.
Guests filled the gate, good friends filled the seats. It wasn’t only male guests that had come, of course, but their wives had been brought along with them. In back was the place where the womenfolk moved about, which also had over a dozen tables set up. The He’s female relatives were spread out between different tables so that they could entertain the guests at each, and not let any of them feel neglected.
“Third Lord He passed into being a Provincial Honorate brilliantly! At next year’s spring exams, he’ll surely be unimpeded his whole journey, and get Palace Honorate on his first try! He’ll truly bring honor to his ancestors, then!”
As the wife of today’s protagonist, Lady Wei, was seated at this one table, the guests at it naturally had to pick out nice things to say. In result, she beamed at that; her mouth was clearly about to split her face to her ears, but she still had to be humble. “Such nonsense. Talents flood the land. My husband passed the provincials by a fluke, so that conclusion can’t be drawn. If it gets out, everyone will say that our family is too egotistical!”
A guest familiar with her smiled. “No need to be overly modest. He’s only twenty-five, yet is already a Provincial Honorate. Looking at the whole of the Great Ming, he can be considered an early achiever! There’s seventy- or eighty-year-olds under this sky that are aging County Honorates, and is there any lack of those?”
The speaker was thoughtless, yet the listeners had ideas. Upon hearing this, everyone’s gazes couldn’t help but glance at the neighboring table.
The reason for that was none other than Tang Yu, wife of the Second He, who was entertaining the guests. In accordance with present cultural concepts, outsiders ought to call her Lady Tang of He.
Lady Wei glanced at her; the latter’s complexion was like it always was, a mild and proper smile on her face as she introduced dishes to the women beside her. It wasn’t clear whether she had heard anything.
“We can’t say that, either,” Lady Wei grinned. “Take our Second, for example. He has talents and knowledge, but poor luck, unfortunately. He’s failed the exam over and over again.”
A woman next to her curled her lip. “He’s in his thirties and still hasn’t passed. He doesn’t have much hope, I’m afraid.”
“And yet he still tries to be pedantic and aloof,” another whispered. “I heard that he shuts himself up in the house and studies himself to death all day long. It’s thanks to the great wealth of the He’s that it can support such an idler. Wouldn’t he have long ruined the household into the ground, otherwise?”
Lady Wei didn’t answer them, lowering her head and eating as she listened with a grin, unable to conceal the smugness on her face whatsoever.
He Yi, Eldest Lord of the family, had become a Palace Honorate at twenty-seven. If He Xuan became one next year, he would be only be twenty-six, and the He’s would be proud all over again. It was little wonder that Lady Wei basked in this glory, as a married couple was of one body, and wives relied on their husband’s merits.
A maid came over in a hurry, going straight for Tang Yu’s table and to her side, then leaning over to whisper something into her ear. Tang Yu’s face was seen to change slightly. She immediately got up, asked for Lady Wei to go over to a side, and whispered to her. “Sister, the Second Lord is feeling unwell, and has now gone back to his room to rest. I will go see to him, and entrust you with looking after things here.”
Lady Wei showed a look of surprise. “He’s ill? Why not ask the doctor over?”
“No need to get so many involved. I think he might have had too much wine, so he just needs to rest. I’ll have to trouble you, here.”
“Go on, then, sister-in-law.”
Tang Yu thanked her, then followed the maid away.
Seeing her depart the banquet in a hurry, everyone was a bit bewildered. They all questioned Lady Wei when she sat down again, who smiled. “She said that the Second Lord drank too much and feels unwell.”
None of them were idiots, so they knew what that implied. Someone laughed. “I’m guessing it’s not that he drank too much wine, but vinegar, hm?”
Too much vinegar made the heart sour.
With Tang Yu no longer around, the others became even more unscrupulous.
“In my opinion, the Second He is really shameless. He has no talent, and even throws his face away at his little brother’s celebration. Doesn’t he know who’s watching?”
“The Second Lady is really pitiful, too. She has looks and talent, but she married someone like him.”
“Well, don’t say that. Her parents are dead and her family’s long since fallen, but the Patriarch thankfully kept his promise to let her marry into the family. She should be content with this.”
Wholeheartedly focused on her husband, Tang Yu didn’t hear the others talking about her. She walked all the way through the noisy party, came before the door to her bedroom, then knocked twice, pushing the door open after she didn’t hear an answer.
“Stay out!” A voice came from inside, its volume not high, yet words brimming with annoyance.
The translator says: Imagine being so ugly that you essentially degrade someone for having dead parents.