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When Tang Fan had been in the Wei house, he had already drawn the scope of who the murderer could be from the clue of Wei Zhuniang’s fingernails.
There was a ninety-nine percent chance that the killer was a man.
He must have had some kind of enmity towards Wei Zhuniang, but she had only been a little girl. Who would have such a deep grudge with her? For that reason, Tang Fan had suggested that Magistrate Weng start investigating her mother, as well as the people surrounding her.
The most important point was that the murderer should be someone fairly familiarized with the Wei home, else he wouldn’t have been able to follow Wei Zhuniang, kill her, and then escape before anyone else discovered him in such a brief period of time.
Given that Magistrate Weng wasn’t too much of a dummy, him finding the killer according to the trail and range Tang Fan had drawn was only a question of when, and yet he had sent someone to tell Tang Fan that something else had happened at the Wei home.
Once Tang Fan arrived at the Wei’s, he was led all the way to the main hall by the Magistrate’s companion. At this very moment, the place was in complete chaos both inside and out. Some of the guests had already left, while some weren’t allowed to leave, forced to remain in the home, inevitably grumbling and scowling at Tang Fan in their heads.
It had been his idea for it to be best to not let a single person go before the killer had been found, but this was clearly not possible to do, because all of the guests here were figures of high repute that dominated almost the majority of farmland in the county. Magistrate Weng’s annual political merits, as well as the amount of tax provisions the authorities could collect, both depended on their support, hence why the Magistrate could not suppress them.
Tang Fan was no longer the appointed official he had once been, and it wasn’t his place to intervene, even if he did disapprove. All he had done was point at the clues; meddling too much would go beyond the rules.
At this moment, two people were seated in the Wei’s main hall. In addition to the serious-looking Magistrate Weng was the sorrowful Wei Ce, slumped over in a chair, a maid beside him in the middle of daubing ointment onto his forehead.
Prior to Tang Fan’s departure, the latter had been upset, but he hadn’t been this bad. Clearly, this second person that had died must have been someone very important to him.
Noticing Tang Fan’s arrival, the Magistrate stood up to greet him. “Brother Tang.”
“Brother Weng. I heard something happened again.”
Magistrate Weng nodded, grave. “The one that died was the Wei’s son, the one that just had his one-month party today.
Tang Fan gasped.
As it went, after he had left, the Magistrate had begun to take stock of suspicious persons in the Estate according to Tang Fan’s suggestion, only for the nanny and maidservants that were taking care of the Young Lord to rush over and report that something had happened to him during this time period.
Due to having a son in his twilight years, Wei Ce cherished the child, and had specially arranged for a nanny and two maids to keep him company. For a large family, that was considered relatively extravagant treatment.
Lady Hu, the nanny, had been brought over from the boy’s birth mother’s natal family, and was devoted and loyal. The two maids were named Xiao Lu and Xiao Shuang, respectively, and had been born in the Wei’s, so the degrees of their loyalty did not need to be doubted.
Young Lord Wei had been the main show of today’s party, yet all of its delicacies had had not a thing to do with him. After he had been showed off to all of the guests, he had been settled in for sleep in his own room, where his mother, Lady Li, had come to see him once.
After that, news had come in about Wei Zhuniang’s death. Lady Hu and the maids had been nervous, so Xiao Lu had been sent to see what was going on. As the Young Lord had still had the nanny and Xiao Shuang beside him, that hadn’t been a big issue.
A minute later, someone from Lady Li’s side had come looking for Lady Hu, thus summoning her away.
By coincidence, at that moment, the Young Lord had wet the bed, so the other maid, Xiao Shuang, had gotten up and gone to the neighboring room to find new bedding to switch out for him.
It wasn’t like there had never been such a happenstance where none of the three had been present before, and because these time periods were so brief, nothing typically happened. Today, however, was an exception; once Xiao Shuang had come back with the bedding, she had gone to check on the Young Lord in his bed as per usual, only to shockingly discover that the infant was no longer breathing.
One wave had not yet settled before another had come rising up again, and the truth about Wei Zhuniang’s death had not been revealed before this incident had befallen the Wei’s son.
The instant she had heard the news, the boy’s mother had swiftly fainted. Wei Ce was similarly shaken to his core; in the span of a day, he had lost two children, one of which had been his hope of continuing the Wei legacy.
Magistrate Weng had run into troubles, as well. He had already checked each and every individual, yet none of the male workers, male guests, or any of the entourage they had brought had any scratches on their arms, which meant that Tang Fan’s inference might have been wrong.
On the other hand, right then, another death in the Wei’s had happened, which had caused the Magistrate to nearly be browbeaten. He had had no choice but to find Tang Fan again, intending to ask for aid.
After listening to their recounting, Tang Fan couldn’t help but crease his brow. “Did you confirm that you didn’t miss anyone?”
The Magistrate nodded. “Yes. I oversaw it, myself, and looked at them one by one according to name. Not a one has scratches on their arms. Only three people had their hands scalded by soup previously, and the doctor looked them over. There’s now gauze wrapped over the backs of their hands.
Tang Fan raised a brow. “Who are the three?”
“One is my wife’s older cousin, surnamed Chai,” Wei Ce was the one to answer. “The other two are this Wei’s partners in the business field.”
“They are unlikely to be the murderers of the Wei son, though,” the Magistrate said.
“Why is that?”
“Because when the boy died, they were all in the main hall. During Wei Zhuniang’s incident, there was chaos in the hall from everyone rushing over to see what was going on. Many had seen the three splashed with the soup, so it isn’t like they could make body doubles.”
Tang Fan pondered to himself. “I’d like to see them.”
Magistrate Weng nodded. “They’re waiting in the side hall. Old Huang, go and call them over.”
Taking the moment when his associate left to summon them, he asked Tang Fan, “Do you have an idea?”
Tang Fan shook his head, smiling bitterly. “After hearing that entire sequence, I’m afraid that getting any ideas at all will be difficult. How did the son die?”
“He was suffocated from getting his face covered by his own swaddling cloth.”
“Could it be that the nanny or maids weren’t being careful, and covered him up too high? Such cases have happened before.”
“Don Tang, that is absolutely impossible,” Wei Ce interjected, “because that stupid girl Xiao Shuang swore up and down that when she went to get the new bedding, the cloth was below his neck, yet by the time she came back, it was already covering his mouth. Clearly, someone had come in during that time period!”
While they spoke, three people were brought in. Tang Fan looked them over; sure enough, there were bandages on their hands. They also looked dejected. After their successive courtesies, the Magistrate had them sit down separately.
“How did the hot soup get splashed?” Tang Fan asked them. “Even if the three of you were sitting together, how could it get on all of your hands at the same time?”
Chai Ze, Wei Ce’s wife’s cousin, smiled painfully. “I wasn’t sitting with them, merely passing by. I also don’t know which fool ran into that pot of boiling soup, but it spilled onto my hand at once. Brother Wang got affected while next to me, too.”
“I had been sitting there,” another said, “and saw them getting scalded, so I got up to go pick up the pot. There had still been some soup in it, though, so it got on me.”
“I’ll be troubling you three with taking off your bandages and letting me take a look.”
The three men were caught off guard — they had only just been bandaged up! However, Magistrate Weng also chimed in. “Go on.”
They were forced to reluctantly remove the bandages. Though their burns were all on their hands, the left and right ones were not the same, and the spots of the burns were all different.
Chai Ze was hurt on the back of his right hand, while Wang Da was hurt on his forearm. As Wang Da had been walking behind Chai Ze, after the latter had been burned ahead of him, then let out a scream and dodged to the side, people behind Wang Da had rushed forth and happened to shove him to the very front, thus netting him soup sprinkled on his forearm.
The last man was Bao Yi. Just like how he had claimed, he had reached out to stop the pot at the time, only to forget that the soup inside it was boiling and get burned. What was injured on him was his palm and a portion of the back of his hand.
There were shot-red abscesses beneath the bandages as well as some areas of scalded-away skin, which had dark ointment applied to them. It was brutal to look at.
Tang Fan inspected this carefully, then had them re-wrap and let them free.
“How is it?” Magistrate Weng eagerly asked.
The other shook his head, saying nothing.
At this moment, Wei Ce had gradually come to calm down. His complexion was as dark as ever, but he had finally gotten some strength and order to his speech. “I just thought it over,” he said to them, “and I think Wang Da might have done this.”
“What is the evidence for that?” the Magistrate asked.
“There is no evidence, but he was wanting to get to know the people of the Salt Transportation Office through me. As you also know, Sir, salt stores are my familial business, so why would I ever offer up that relationship to anyone else? I ignored him. Later on, he asked after it repeatedly, and I always found excuses to deceive him. Perhaps he held a grudge because of that, turned around, and took revenge on me?”
Magistrate Weng frowned. “How would killing Wei Zhuniang and your son help him? If he held a grudge, he would have preferred to act against you.”
Tang Fan nodded. “What Mister Magistrate said makes sense.”
As the other two didn’t agree with him, Wei Ce was a little depressed.
Waiting idly around for evidence to drop by the door was no way to handle things; Tang Fan suggested that they go to the hall that the banquet had taken place at for a look. Wei Ce mustered up his energy to lead him there himself, while Magistrate Weng followed after, having nothing to do anyways.
Tang Fan had been through this area before, so it was not unfamiliar to him. Behind the screen was the spot where he had suffered a huge jump of fright from seeing the incognito Eunuch Wang, while in front of the screen was the wide-open reception hall. The original tables and chairs had been removed, and there were ten round, eight-seater yellow rosewood tables with inlaid marble set up, making it even emptier in here.
However, apart from the guests had been servants bringing food and maids helping pour wine, some people even getting up for toasts, coming and going. All of that — even though the space was large — had made it seem noisy and crammed.
“Which table was Bao Yi at?” Tang Fan asked Wei Ce.
The latter couldn’t remember, so he turned to look at the following steward, who quickly pointed at one of the tables near the entrance. “It was that one.”
“They said that the soup was scalding. Is that true? There didn’t seem to be any such dish when I left before.”
“Yes. It was served second-to-last, and is called jadeite abalone stew. Over ten glazed pots were covered at the same time to stew, then were lifted up while heated to serve to the guests steaming. The Wei home doesn’t have that big of an area, nor does it have that many glazed pots, so these dishes had been prepped and delivered by a restaurant ahead of time.”
“Which restaurant? How far away is it?”
“Its name is Sky of Bluegreen Clouds, and it’s the largest restaurant in the county. Its distance from here… is no more than about a cup of tea’s time.”
“If you all ordered this dish from there, then, given that they make it fresh, you probably have to notify them in advance for whatever period it needs to be served, to give them some time to get it ready?”
“You are correct, we notified them the day before. The soup needs to be slow-cooked for twelve shichen before it tastes good. When the third-to-last course was served, we sent someone over and began instructing them to carry the pots in.”
“The coming and going takes two cups’ worth of time, then, while the meal took a shichen, at minimum. In other words, after the pots were taken here, it was at least another shichen before they got served.”
The steward nodded. “Correct, more or less. Because it’s hot out and the pots were sealed well, it didn’t start cooling down until it was set onto the tables.”
“Magistrate Weng had left a step ahead of me, so he certainly didn’t get to have any of that soup,” Tang Fan said to Wei Ce. “Did you? Was it hot?”
Wei Ce smiled painfully. “This Wei had rushed over as soon as I heard that something happened to my daughter, so I didn’t get any, either.”
“This lowly one had a sip,” the steward said. “It indeed burned the mouth.”
“In that case, if the soup had been spilled onto your hands at the time, do you think that they would now be blistered up like theirs are?” Tang Fan asked.
The steward hesitated. “That… seems about right?”
Magistrate Weng ended up reacting faster than the rest. “Do you suspect that those three are using burns to cover up scratches on their arms?”
Tang Fan nodded. “Yes.”
The other creased his brow. “But… would there be three killers?”
“Of course not.”
“I’ll go and interrogate them individually, then.”
“There’s no need to worry about that for now,” Tang Fan answered. He didn’t give much of an explanation, first questioning the steward, “Is there any more of that stew you mentioned in Sky of Bluegreen Clouds today? Or does it need to be made fresh?”
“There is! Many diners go there to eat, so the restaurant has two pots cooking every day, which are also stewed for twelve shichens. If one gets there late, they’re not getting any, so it needs to be ordered ahead of time. The dish is pretty popular.”
“Go there and see if it’s still available, and if you can, buy a pot, return using the route and method of transport you all used today, and present it in one shichen.”
Not understanding the point of this, the steward had to look at Wei Ce. “Do what Don Tang says,” the latter quickly ordered.
While the steward scurried off, Tang Fan said to the other two, “Take a look; the table is so big, served dishes would generally be put in the middle. This soup pot alone, because it was being served fresh to the guests, was placed to the side.”
Both of them nodded, expressing their agreement.
“Presuming that the situation was chaotic, where everyone heard about Wei Zhuniang and thought to go out and see what happened, we don’t know who bumped into the jar. Going along with what Bao Yi said, the soup was spilling out in the direction opposite him, after which he reached out to right it, only to get burned. The jar must have therefore been bumped by his elbow, coincidentally dumping it on Chai Ze and Wang Da as they stood near the table.”
He imitated the act here; Magistrate Weng and Wei Ce immediately understood upon seeing it.
“Also presuming that one among them is the killer, and that person is Bao Yi, then he knocked the pot over deliberately. If the killer is either Wang Da or Chai Ze, random people, they wouldn’t have at all been counting on Bao Yi running into the pot.”
“That means, no matter what the situation is, Bao Yi is lying!” the Magistrate concluded for him.
Tang Fan nodded. “Correct. However, we have one thing to prove at this moment, and if we can, this all can be easily solved.”
Wei Ce was still a bit in the dark, but Magistrate Weng had already come to a full understanding, twirling his beard and smiling. “Very good!”
He was not someone that envied others’ talents, and Tang Fan had always been quite proper, both not stealing the show, but also giving him the credit. He had good feelings towards Tang Fan, and didn’t hesitate to praise him. “You are truly talented, good brother! The Dynasty not utilizing an official like you is truly their loss!”
Who that ‘their’ referred to, he wasn’t clarifying, but the two of them knew well.
Tang Fan shook his head. “I’m unworthy of your praise, Brother Weng. If I can only help investigate, yet not be an official, what use would I be investigating alone?”
His words called Magistrate Weng’s own bumpy career path to mind, and he couldn’t help but smile in sorrow.
Seeing them crossing swords, Wei Ce had to say, “What about my son’s death? Do you two have an idea about that?”
“If we haven’t guessed incorrectly,” the Magistrate said, “the deaths of your son and daughter shouldn’t have been done by the same person.”
Wei Ce let out an exclamation, looking lost. “Th-then how could…?”
As a merchant, being affable to gain riches was a number-one priority, but no matter how slick one was, they would inevitably get rivals and enemies in the field of business. The same went for Tang Fan and the rest in the field of officialdom, where they never had a lack of foes, but even then, this type of hatred that was deep enough to kill another’s family was very, very rare.
Murderers were to be executed — that was a law that had not changed since Qin times. Although there were all sorts of limitations and accommodations therein, even ordinary citizens knew that homicide was no trivial matter.
“Think back,” the Magistrate said, “who else have you offended, aside from Wang Da?”
Wei Ce was dejected. “There’s many, of course. In business dealings, one party profits, while the other certainly loses, but I’ve never heard of anyone that would murder over this! Moreover, what crimes have children committed? If they wanted revenge, why not come for me?”
Magistrate Weng and Tang Fan remained silent. They had been officials for years, and had seen cases much more abominable than this one all over the place. Though they were rueful, they weren’t as emotional as Wei Ce was.
While they spoke, the steward had since returned, followed by a servant carrying a pot. “Sir, inside this is jadeite abalone stew. I followed your instructions, and brought a pot back after it had been a shichen off the stove.”
“Place it on the table, then find someone to open the jar and pour some on their hands,” the Magistrate ordered.
“Huh?” The steward was completely dumbstruck, not understanding what kind of operation this was supposed to be.
“Find someone willing to do this, and he’ll be given a hefty reward afterwards,” Tang Fan said from the side.
“The reward will be ten taels of snowflake silver,” Wei Ce also spoke up.
That was no small amount. The eyes of the servant following the steward lit up, and he stuck himself out. “My Lord, could this lowly one do it?”
Wei Ce looked at the Magistrate, who nodded and answered. “Alright. Pour it on for us to see, but don’t shrink away from it. We just want to see how your hand will look after it’s burned.”
The servant mentally mumbled to himself that the Magistrate was a bit of a freak, but wealth moved the heart; he would do anything for those ten taels.
The steward quickly opened the jar, then poured its contents on the outstretched hand of the servant. With scorching soup spilling onto him, even though he had made mental preparations, the latter still couldn’t help but cry out, expression twisting up.
Stew splashed onto the floor, the fragrance of it instantly permeating the place.
A good minute later, the Magistrate allowed the servant to wash his hand off, but forbade him from applying medicine to it, only telling him to come back over after. When the steward came back with the man, Tang Fan and the others took a look at the servant’s outstretched hand.
They saw that the recently-burnt skin had gone red, but it wasn’t as severe an injury as Wang Da and the others’ had been.
Upon seeing this, Wei Ce let out an ah. “What is this? Why was the condition of their burns different from Old Dong’s? Could it be because he has thick skin…?”
Magistrate Weng had the steward take the servant away for medical attention, then explained to Wei Ce. “It’s not that he’s thick-skinned, it’s that the pot that burned Wang Da and the rest was heated up again after it had been delivered.”
Wei Ce saw the light. “That’s why Don Tang had the steward replicate the circumstances of the soup’s delivery today? To prove that by the time the pot got to the table, even if it could burn the mouth, it couldn’t have been enough to cause severe burns?”
The Magistrate nodded. “Right. As long as you all can get to the kitchen and figure out who reheated the pot that day, you’ll be able to follow along that vine and uncover the murderer.”
Having helped with all that he could have, whatever followed had nothing to do with Tang Fan. He rejected the Magistrate’s invitation to participate in the interrogation, then returned to the He’s with Qian San’r.
After all that mess, it was already nightfall. Tang Fan hadn’t eaten well, and had been feeling ravenous for a long time now; thinking of how it was currently past dinnertime, it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to ask someone to cook for him at the He’s, so the two planned to find something to eat outside.
However, Xianghe County wasn’t nearly as flourishing as the capital. As soon as night had come, even the restaurants had closed, leaving few open for business, aside from brothels.
Qian San’r laughed evilly, suggesting that they go to a brothel to eat, and solve all the problems of life while they were at it.
He got smacked on the back of the head by Tang Fan, which promptly made his mouth shrink up, too afraid to make a peep.
“If you want to follow me, don’t even think about that stuff,” Tang Fan warned. “Later on, I’ll find you a wife to spend your days peacefully with!”
Qian San’r felt beyond wronged, as he had a villain’s thoughts, but not a villain’s guts. He used a very hurt expression towards his superior that was thinking him to be a ‘patron’. “I swear that I’ve never actually been to a place like that before!”
Tang Fan rolled his eyes. “What’s the use of swearing to me? Swear that to your future wife.”
Qian San’r grinned lasciviously. “Sir, you have a vast array of friends. Find me one! I have absolutely trust in your good eyesight!”
“You’re sure you want me to find you someone?”
“Then I shall. When we’re back in the capital, I’ll give a proposal to the old proprietress that sells laobing on the eastside lane.”
Qian San’r shrieked. “Hell no! That woman’s forty and as round as a ball! You have the heart to make me a lamb thrown into a tiger’s den, Sir!?”
Tang Fan’s face nearly broke composure from hearing him call himself a ‘lamb’. “Did you not say that every time you go to buy from her, she gives you a flirty look?”
“That’s because she sells laobing every day and had never seen someone as handsome as me before, so feelings of love sprouted within her,” the other sulked. “But I can’t send myself into the claws of the beast just because I pity her!”
“Get out of here. You really think yourself to be hot stuff, huh? Go cool off elsewhere, and quit bothering me!”
The two walked all the way back, but, from far away, they noticed that the bamboo courtyard’s entrance was pretty noisy. Lightly frowning, Tang Fan briskly walked all the way forth.
The star of the noisiness was the He’s second branch — He Lin and Tang Yu.
To be more accurate, He Lin had gotten drunk, and was going on a drunken tirade at Tang Yu. She was separated from him by Yan Li and Gongsun Yan. On account of He Lin’s status, they couldn’t directly fight him, but with them around, he also had no way to get anywhere near her.
The two Brocade Guards were looking at He Lin with contempt, and those gazes just provoked him into getting more and more outlandish.
Far too many things had happened today; for the Wei’s, and for He Lin even more so. He hadn’t expected that, for no rhyme or reason, he would be going to participate in a one-month party, then participating in a whole heap of things.
Under previous circumstances, everyone’s suspicious gazes had landed upon He Cheng, yet he had been unable to say anything to explain himself. He Lin felt that if it had been anyone else, they definitely wouldn’t have thought of a better method to employ than the one he had, and hadn’t thought at all that there was anything wrong with beating his son.
Yet, Tang Fan had stood up, bringing up the Brocade Guard and Patriarch He to suppress him. In the presence of a crowd, his brother-in-law had given no regard towards right and wrong, relentlessly criticizing him and even getting those dogs to attack him. It was something He Lin, who had had a good reputation all his life, could not accept.
After he had angrily left the Wei’s, he had gone to get wasted, and ran into some friends that he typically recited poetry with. They had all previously heard what had happened at the Wei’s; using the name of comfort, they had mocked him in reality, implying that he was a husband that couldn’t control his wife. Getting compared unfavorably to his brothers had been enough, but now even his brother-in-law was looking down on him — they had further teased that he might be made to kneel on a washboard once he returned.
Those words entering his ears had added fuel to the fire. Drinking wine bolstered one’s courage, losing him his fear towards the Brocade Guards, and leaving one notion behind in his head: find Tang Yu and settle the score!
From his point of view, it was quite difficult for him to see her perspective, or empathize with her difficulties over the years. All he saw was that she had her little brother’s backing, who he didn’t place importance upon. After today, in the He family, in Xianghe County, what dignity would he have remaining to stand on?
Thus was the scene Tang Fan witnessed.
After seeing that it was getting late, Tang Yu had been preparing to go back to the place she stayed in, but she couldn’t stop worrying about He Cheng. Fearing that He Lin would find an excuse to quarrel with him after he got back, she had thus intended to leave her son in the bamboo courtyard so that Tang Fan could look out for him for one night. However, she hadn’t been able to wait for him, and could only bid farewell to He Cheng as he studied obediently and didn’t cause trouble, leaving herself ahead of time.
Unexpectedly, she had run into He Lin at the entryway, who had returned in aggressive drunkenness.
Yan Li and Gongsun Yan were scowling. Seeing as how He Lin was starting to brandish his intoxication physically, they were currently considering whether to beat him up or not, but he was Tang Yu’s husband and Tang Fan’s brother-in-law. They couldn’t grasp what would be proper for this, starting to look forward to Tang Fan’s return — and, upon seeing him show up, they were both elated. “Don!”
It was unclear if He Lin had gone into a stupor from drinking too much or what, but he didn’t even turn his head, continuing to yell at Tang Yu. “Ever since you married into the He’s, when have I ever let you down?! For you, I didn’t indulge in wine and women! Even He Xuan has a bedmaid in his courtyard, while I have nothing! Others all say that you’re a jealous shrew, but I still said good things about you! But you? How did you treat me? You allowed your little brother to destroy my reputation! Do the He’s slight or put you down? Don’t go thinking that you can do whatever you wish just because you have your brother supporting you! Nevermind separation, I’m getting a div—“
“Quiet!” came a roar with a land-leveling volume.
It wasn’t Tang Fan that had done that, as he didn’t have such good core strength. Everyone followed the source to see Patriarch He furiously coming over while using on a cane; without another word, he raised his hand and slapped He Lin.
The woman following after him was alarmed. Seeing that the Patriarch wanted to go for it again, she quickly said, “You should use your words!”
The bamboo courtyard was quite close to the He home, and He Lin’s fuss had quickly become known by the rest of the He’s. Tang Fan had been standing to the side and not heading over, waiting for He Lin to say something so that he could get some insider information on him, only for the Patriarch to arrive just in time, and so quickly.
He Lin was struck stupid by the slap, expression blank as he said nothing. Patriarch He wanted to come at him once more, only to get stopped by someone.
That someone was Tang Fan.
“Uncle, beating him won’t solve the issue,” he said. “Since he’s reached the point where he already wants to split with my sister, I think we should sit down and have a nice talk.”
The Patriarch couldn’t comprehend Tang Fan, but he knew that his reaction was much too calm, and the calmer he was, the less great things were. “My good nephew, I want to help you vent your anger! This unfilial son deserves to be taught a good lesson!” He held a face of rage. “Don’t stop me, just watch as I break his leg!”
“What anger would I require another to help me vent? Is it not because of my sister that I’m even angry?” Tang Fan answered, calm, yet sardonic.
The Patriarch paused slightly in his actions, looking at Tang Yu, then at the drunk He Lin. He shook his head and sighed. “Such sin.”
“Father, mother. I have something to say,” Tang Yu, who had been quiet all this time, suddenly said. Her expression was nearly cold. When He Lin had just been shouting, she hadn’t shown any surprise or heartbreak then, either, and was even more oddly placid now.
“If you’ve something to say, we can go in the room to talk,” Matriarch He said.
“Right, we can speak more tomorrow. For tonight, it’d be better for my sister and nephew to stay in the bamboo courtyard,” Tang Fan surprisingly said.
Patriarch He nodded. He didn’t want to stand outside in the deep of night because of some terrible familial clamor, either. Furthermore, after experiencing all that stuff with the Wei’s, everyone was exhausted today; only He Lin would start fighting at a doorway without a care for anything else.
He ordered for He Lin to be detained, keeping watch on him personally. Seeing as the other was still defiant, he straight-up told his subordinates to tie him up with rope.
Matriarch He urged Tang Yu to rest well, saying that she would come to see her grandson again tomorrow. After that, she told the courtyard servants to serve them well, gave them detailed instructions, then departed.
The second everyone else left, Tang Fan accompanied Tang Yu inside, where, upon seeing that no one else was around, she glared at him. “Didn’t you tell me to pay back all of the hardships I’ve suffered these years? I finally managed to accumulate enough anger to scold them, yet you cut me off!”
A Tang Yu like this had a style similar to the former Eldest Miss of the Tang’s. Having been married for so many years, she had probably nearly forgotten what she had once been like, herself.
“But I’m hungry,” he replied, aggrieved. “I would only have the energy to fight if I’m full. What would we have done if I passed out from hunger?”
She was both amused and distressed, throwing out even the bit of depression and anguish she had just had. “Have you not learned how to take care of yourself while abroad all these years…? Go sit inside, I’ll make noodles.”
“Ooo, I want a poached egg on mine!” he answered, beaming. Thereafter glimpsing the teary Qian San’r beside him, he compassionately added on, “Sis, add another bowl to that. San’r hasn’t eaten yet.”
Qian San’r shone with the bit of sunlight he had been given, immediately drooling as he grinned. “I want a poached egg, too!”
“Get out,” Tang Fan said, annoyed.