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The one before him was none other than Tang Fan.
Upon hearing his interrogative question, he only smiled, not saying anything.
Seeing that he was still grinning, He Lin grit his teeth, itching to throw himself over and bite him. However, someone else was seated next to him, gripping the hilt of a spring-gilt sabre and staring at him icily, which caused him to forcibly tamp down his anger, too afraid to cause trouble. “What do you even want?!” he squeezed out from between the cracks in his teeth.
Tang Fan shook his head. “Brother-in-law, this isn’t about what I want. You need to ask yourself what you want.”
Honestly speaking, despite his cleverness, Tang Fan would never have thought of such a morally lacking plan as getting He Lin to lose money via gambling.
When Sui Zhou had readily taken the matter over, he had been extraordinarily relieved, as he knew that Sui Zhou definitely had a solution. What he hadn’t expected was that, a few days later, Sui Zhou would bring him to a gambling den and say that he was about to watch a good show.
As a result, once He Lin was in front of him, Tang Fan understood it all. Slightly conflicted, he said nothing; Sui Zhou’s plan… was really something else.
“What do I want? Don’t you all just want to extort money out of me with this?!” He Lin raged.
Tang Fan felt that this brother-in-law of his had really thrown his all into the imperial exams without delving into street smarts, so it was little wonder that he had easily fallen into this trap. He smiled lightly. “You and I are in-laws. Why would I extort you? Before anything else, let’s talk about my sister and nephew. I won’t beat around the bush with you, either; agree to split households, and we can write this off with one stroke, where I’ll help you repay the gambling money. How about it?”
He Lin finally grasped their plan, letting out a cold laugh. “And if I don’t?”
“If you don’t, those IOUs will be sent straight to Patriarch He, whereupon the entire household will know that you, Second Lord of the He’s, went out and gambled away five-thousand taels,” the other replied, unhurried. “Not only will the He’s know, but all of Xianghe County will, too. With how much you cherish your plumage, shouldn’t you be happy about this occurrence?”
He Lin was angered to the point that he clenched his fists tight. “You really are contemptible and shameless! How could I have been so blind as to marry the Tang’s daughter back in the day?!”
Tang Fan’s smiled faded. “Do you not feel terrible saying something like that? Were it not for your poor treatment of my sister and nephew, why would I have insisted in getting them to leave? My father wanting his daughter to marry into your family was not so that you could step all over her. Had my sister not abided by the betrothal promise of our father and instead married into a small family, would she not be much happier than she is now?”
“How have I treated them poorly? Has the He family ever shorted them any food or clothing?!” He Lin still tried to justify himself.
Tang Fan raised his brows. “Is the He family yours? Are you the one providing them food and clothing?”
He Lin spluttered half to death.
But, Tang Fan didn’t want to wrangle with him any longer. What would be the significance in winning on this subject? “As a man, you should frankly get a move on. Do you consent to the splitting of households, or not? If you don’t, I’ll personally go seek out Patriarch He myself.”
He Lin clenched his teeth audibly, only to find that even if he glared murderously at the other party, he didn’t feel it at all. After a long silence, he answered dispiritedly, “I consent.”
Tang Fan nodded. “That’s good. I’ll have to trouble you with going to talk to the Patriarch, as tied-up bells need someone to tie them up in the first place. Me going to say as much would be inferior in usefulness to you doing it.”
Thus had been the total sequence of events for why Patriarch He had seen his son come up and agree to the household split of his own volition.
He Lin would, naturally, never tell the Patriarch his reason of losing five-thousand taels that he couldn’t repay, instead choosing words that were pleasant to hear. “Since she wants to leave, let her leave, as no matter what, it’s not a separation, and Qilang’s surname will still be He. Now that Tang Fan is promoted and of the capital, I’m afraid that if I don’t agree, he will harbor a grudge, and perform some trick against the Eldest. For the sake of the peace of all our family, please allow them to, father.”
The Patriarch smiled angrily. “You’re still able to think of your elder brother? Why have I never seen you be so righteously principled before now, huh?”
Not happy to hear that, He Lin’s face sank. “Father, you prefer the Eldest, and mother prefers the Third. Since my youth, I, the Second, have been in the middle, and cannot obtain any gains whatsoever. Now that I’m being considerate to the Eldest, you instead suspect my intentions?”
“Tell me, if the households are to be split, how? Isn’t the money in your second branch all your wife’s dowry? Do you even have any sort of capital to supply her with? Are you going to let her walk out with my grandson empty-handed? What will outsiders think of our family, then?”
He Lin didn’t make a sound.
Differing from Tang Fan’s breed of impoverished capital official, Patriarch He had been an abroad official for decades, and had made quite a lot of familial capital. The He’s were also a local influential clan, where one or two tenths of the county’s farmlands were theirs, or tilled under their name.
Those were fixed estates of the He’s, not He Lin’s, though. While he worried not for food and clothing, when it came to personal items, he really didn’t have anything aside from the books in his room. Had he not been born into the He’s, but a commoner family, he likely would have long fallen into poverty.
Looking at how he was, the Patriarch’s long-accumulated anger was triggered, and he waved his hand like he was swatting a fly. “Fine! Go outside and wait for me to think this over!”
“Do it as soon as possible,” He Lin had to say, “Tang Fan and the rest will soon return to the capital.”
Seeing that his old dad’s face was as dark as the bottom of a pot, He Lin finally became a bit cowed, quickly standing up to leave.
As expected, a snarl that paid no mind to finesse came out of the Patriarch from behind him, his rationality snapped. “’As soon as possible’, you dick?! Didn’t you so shamelessly say at the beginning that you refuse, yet you’re now pressuring me to do it ‘as soon as possible’?! Get out! This old man doesn’t want to look at you!”
Watching his son’s figure leave his line of sight, Patriarch He finally stopped vocalizing, his beard that was floating up out of anger having no time to calm down, shuddering along with the violent heaving of its owner’s chest.
Back when the father and son had just been halfway through their conversation, Lady Xu had arrived. In order to avoid butting in and thus interrupting, she had waited until He Lin left to come out. “Even with how old you are, you still don’t know how to take care of yourself, getting angry at every turn!” she rebuked.
Rubbing his chest, the Patriarch took a sip of tea, only after which he felt a little better. “This son of yours is going to anger me to death!”
She was displeased. “Isn’t he your son, too?”
“I don’t know what means Tang Fan used to persuade the Second, but it looks like the split of households is pressing in,” he answered, helpless.
“If she wants to leave, let her. A Left Metropolitan Censor isn’t much, just truefourth-rank. You were third-rank back in the day yourself, Lord.”
“Was me being third-rank at the age of sixty, right before I retired, any sort of glory?” he unhappily asked. “Don’t you see how old he is? A little over twenty, yet fourth-ranked, and a capital official! If he’s lucky, it’d be completely normal for him to be one of the Six Ministers someday! Even if we can’t be tied in marriage to someone like that, we mustn’t make enemies of him! The Eldest is an active official, and the Third will enter officialdom in the future — they can’t be implicated because the Second tempts fate!”
“What’s to be done? With things at this plight, you can’t prevent Lady Tang from leaving, right?”
“Of course I can’t. If I try to, we actually will be enemies. Splitting households is overall better than separation, and she’ll still be a part of our He family. If the Second is able to suddenly repent, then it won’t be impossible for the married couple to be in harmony later on, but according to the morals of that vile bastard, I don’t think there’s any point in counting on that…”
Having gone on and on for such a huge chunk, he then said to her, “Go and take five-thousand taels from the accounts room to give to the Second Lady.”
Lady Xu was startled. “So much?”
“Splitting households involves dividing assets, and dividing assets must happen before the households split. The Second has no personal assets, so what division could there be? The Second Lady has subsidized this place with a lot of her dowry these years, so are we going to have outsiders say that our family embezzles its daughter-in-laws’ dowries? He Lin can throw his face away, but this old man can’t!”
Five-thousand taels was not a small amount. Lady Xu couldn’t help but feel distressed. “You don’t have to give her five-thousand, then. What she’s supplemented over the years has been a few hundred taels at most—“
“Don’t say it!” he interrupted. “Do you think I don’t feel heartache at this? We’re here to net good karma, not net foes!” He then sighed. “There’s something else that I need to talk to you about. Prepare yourself mentally.”
She put a hand on her chest. “Say it all in one breath, don’t dawdle. Is the Second causing trouble, as always?”
The Patriarch showed a slight smile. “It actually has nothing to do with him. Count Sui proposed a marriage.”
She was surprised. “Who did he take a fancy to? The He’s wife-born daughters have already married off. Only Ba’r is of marriageable age, but she’s concubine-born…”
Knowing that her thoughts were going askew, he said, “Sui Zhou is a subject close to the Emperor. Why would he take a liking to Ba’r? It’s his subordinate, a Gonfalon named Yan Li, that wants to to marry her. He probably accidentally saw her when he was coming in or out of the bamboo courtyard, so he fell in love.”
Lady Xu hesitated. “Lord, although Ba’r didn’t come from my stomach, I have been raising her since she was young, and treat her as my own. If she can have a good marriage, I will naturally be happy for her as a mother, but the Brocade Guard is military. Our family is a scholarly one, so how could a military man be bound to it?”
“Gonfalon is trueseventh-rank, the same as a County Magistrate. Even though this present Court emphasizes the civil and de-emphasizes the military, causing seventh-rank martial officials to not have value, that Sui Zhou stepped up for him illustrates their good relationship,” He Ying patiently explained to her. “Also, just think about how good his friendship with Tang Fan is, that he ran over from the capital to support him. As Yan Li has a superior like that, if he has ambitions, his future achievements may not be meagre. Taking about ten thousand steps back… I don’t wish to demean my own son, but just look at the Second. Isn’t marrying anyone but someone like him better?”
He Ying had really been angered silly by his son. Hearing words like that, Madam Xu couldn’t help but side-eye him, but she wasn’t someone who never listened to opinions. After a thought, she nodded. “Alright. If he has the idea to seek marriage, this betrothal won’t be an impossibility. I’ll go ask Ba’r first so that she can think about it. At the end of it, she’ll be the one marrying off, not us; she mustn’t be made to marry reluctantly.”
The other sighed. “You’re right, we need to ask her first. We don’t need to get another pair of resentful companions. If it can be done, then that would be for the best, as Sui Zhou and Tang Fan would both bear a relationship to us, and our two families could remain in contact. Even if this affair with the Second happens, we won’t be completely fallen out with each other.”
Clearly, the Patriarch and Matriarch were not actually confused about what was going on. They had three sons; the Eldest made them proud, the Third they were very close to, and the Second just gave them trouble, while Tang Yu was bound to someone like that.
Using Patriarch He as an example, despite him having concubines, he esteemed his primary wife enough to discuss everything with her, even having handed over total authority of the inner household to her, allowing her to handle things how she would and generally not asking about it. Hence, they were on good terms, never getting red in the face at each other for these many years. All the men in the present world that had chaotic households because of their multitudes of concubines should probably be paying respects to Patriarch He.
In contrast, He Lin didn’t have a single concubine, yet was making a big mess that actually did damage his father’s reputation. The Patriarch had no idea how much he owed his second son from their previous lives, for him to come collect the debt in this life.
The following step went surprisingly smoothly. Lady Xu sought out the Eighth Miss of the He’s to mention the matter. She had believed that the Eighth Miss would think deeper about this and prefer to marry a scholar, but despite the girl’s shyness, she expressed no dissent. Once Lady Xu asked after that, she learned that the two had already met outside of the bamboo courtyard, and taken a mutual liking to each other. Not only had Yan Li set his heart on her, but she had already secretly promised him her heart, too.
Since both parties were interested, the matter was easy to handle. However, this would need to wait for Yan Li to return and report to his parents before the marriage papers could be brought over and the process started. Taking anyone back as a wife immediately was not possible.
In spite of that, after learning of the news, Yan Li was so delighted, it was like he had come down with something, grinning like an idiot for the next couple of days. Were it not for his fear of scaring the young lady, he probably would have even done things like scaled the He’s walls to tell her of his innermost feelings.
On a different side, after He Lin and the Patriarch nodded over and over, Tang Yu began to pack up her things in preparation to bring her son away with Tang Fan to the capital. Tang Fan was leaning against the doorframe; upon seeing that she was smiling, he couldn’t help but tease, “Sis, you’re about to live apart from the Second, so you could at least pretend to be sad about it. Anyone who didn’t know would think you were getting married.”
She glared at and made to hit him, but he dodged while laughing. Truthfully, he was well aware that she was happy due to finally getting freed from being stifled for so long, and due to being able to live a new life from then on.
“Before you came, I was thinking solely of passing life like this daily, bearing with it day by day until Qilang grew up, whereupon I would be free,” she answered. “However, after he wanted to beat Qilang at the Wei’s, in front of everyone else, I knew there was no way I could keep bearing with it like that. I could have endured, but Qilang could not have. Were he to grow up and become like his father, self-reproaching and self-deprecating, what point would all my patience be, then? Thankfully, you’re still around. If not for your help, I really wouldn’t know how to get away from him and leave the He’s…”
Tang Fan wiped her tears away. “You don’t need to endure anything anymore, sis. Guangchuan already helped me buy a residence in the capital, so Qilang and you can settle in immediately after you leave, and that will be your home that you’ll live in for as long as you want.”
Tang Yu was grateful. “Since you bought your house, I can’t just live there idly. The He’s gave me five-thousand taels, so when the time comes, it’ll be enough for me to buy my own home in the capital…”
“Sis, I actually have a little plan. Can I hear your opinion on it?”
She smiled. “Go on and tell me. Our Fluffy is so bright, your plan is certain to be excellent.”
Powerless to resist the fact that his sister had given him that nickname, he could only meekly pretend he didn’t hear that as he jumped straight to the main topic. “Rather than use that money to buy a house, it’d be better for you to buy a store. If you don’t want to run a business, you can just rent it out, and if you do want to, you can. You won’t even need to step forth yourself, as you can hire a shopkeep when the time comes, and will only need to look after finances. I remember that when you were in the Tang home, you were in charge of all of its account registries; this definitely wouldn’t be hard for you.”
Tang Yu listened very carefully, his words seeming to open up a brand new gate for her. Previously, she had been like the majority of women of this time period, marrying off and having kids according to standards — never had she imagined that beyond that, there would be room for her to choose. “You’re saying… that I should run my own business?”
Tang Fan nodded, cautiously observing her expression as he did so. “There’d be no need to even show your face, as just being behind the helm and piloting in a general direction would be enough. If you don’t like the idea, we can discuss it a bit longer.”
In this era, there was no scarcity of people like Wei Ce that had scholarly merits and went on to run businesses. The income of these large households, in addition to collecting rent from farmlands, was to run some outside stores, which naturally didn’t require the owning family to go out and manage them themselves. Just as Tang Fan had said, they would only need to control the general situation from behind the scenes.
However, no matter how one said them, the four classes — scholars, farmers, artisans, and merchants — were deeply engraved in peoples’ hearts, and many would have some conflict at heart when hearing of commerce. For a well-bred lady like Tang Yu, it would be understandable for her to refuse.
Tang Fan had obviously underestimated his sister’s ability to accept it, though, as after hearing this, she actually looked excited. “That makes total sense! Qilang is going to need money all over the place later, and even though what I have is a lot to look at, it’ll be used up if I don’t replenish it. It’d be much better to do some business! Thank you, Fluffy! If It weren’t for you, I would have no idea what to do!”
“Promise me one thing, then.”
She was puzzled. “Huh?”
He coughed. “Don’t call me by that nickname anymore. Ever since Guangchuan heard you call me that, he’s been deliberately calling me it when no one’s looking.”
Tang Yu imagined a scene of Sui Zhou and his unsmiling face saying ‘Fluffy’, and couldn’t resist letting out a pfft. Seeing her little brother’s resentful eyes, she hurriedly said, “There’s no way. Sir Sui is such a serious person that likely never jokes, so how could he do such a thing? You must not want me to say it anymore, so you’re purposefully accusing someone else unfairly. Fluffy, our parents are gone now, and someone that can call you this must be someone close to you. Every time I do, I think of our parents…”
“Fine, fine, fine! Call me whatever, whenever you like!”
Faced with his sister’s on-the-verge-of-tears look, Mister Tang ran straight away. Once he was out of the He home, he saw Sui Zhou, then recalled that he had an appointment set for the Wei’s, walking forward. “Guangchuan, let’s go.”
Sis, are you blind? You read this guy wrong! He just loves doing stuff like this!
Arriving at the Wei’s entrance, they met up with Magistrate Weng, who had long been waiting outside. Beside him stood the Wei steward, as well as some servants.
“Were you waiting long?” Tang Fan asked with a smile.
“No, no, this humble official was only waiting for but a minute!” the other quickly replied. The Wei’s had quickly invited him inside when they had seen him coming, leaving no reason at all for him to be made to stand at the entrance. However, with Tang Fan not here, how could Magistrate Weng have ever entered? He had thus insisted upon waiting outside, meaning the Wei steward could only wait alongside him.
Sweeping his eyes over, Tang Fan noticed something amiss. In a context like this, by basis of both logic and sensibilities, the Patriarch of the He’s should have been here as well, yet there was now only one steward. With how meticulous in personality Wei Ce was, this should not have ever happened.
The steward was astute, quickly noticing Tang Fan’s confusion. “Pardon me, Sir, but our Lord is bedridden with sickness. The doctor said that he mustn’t meet with chill, so please forgive us!”
Tang Fan glanced at Magistrate Weng. Understanding, the latter nodded and said, “I’ve also heard that he’s ill, but I don’t know what he’s ill with.”
His undertone was rather annoyed.
The steward knew that it really was improper for the head of the household to not come out and welcome them, but there was nothing else he could do, other than smile painfully as he repeatedly asked for forgiveness. “Sirs, it isn’t that our Lord won’t come out, but rather that he can’t get out of bed. If you will follow me in, you will see for yourself.”
Regardless of whether Wei Ce was actually sick or faking it, Tang Fan and Magistrate Weng were going to have to go in for a look today anyways, and walked inside upon hearing that. The steward hurriedly led the way in front, welcoming them into a room inside the back of the main courtyard.
Wei Ce was laying back on a bed, face pale and beaded with cold sweat. Once he heard that Censor Tang and Magistrate Weng were here, he swiftly struggled to get up, but the maid helping him ended up being too weak — with a moment of inattention, the two fell to the floor together, with Wei Ce landing so badly, it was even harder for him to get up.
Going pale with fright, the steward hurriedly ran up to help him up. In tandem with the maid that came over to help, they were able to get Wei Ce’s oversized figure up.
As he didn’t appear to be faking it, Tang Fan said, “No need to be too courteous, go ahead and rest in bed. We will come over there and ask a few questions.”
Wei Ce couldn’t keep caring about politeness, smiling bitterly as he replied, “Many thanks for your great compassion, Sir,” then laid back down. The maid covered him with a thick blanket.
Having heard that the gentlemen were going to ask questions, the steward busily moved chairs over and asked them to sit, offering tea.
Magistrate Weng had no thoughts to drink tea. He felt this a bit odd; when he had seen Wei Ce two days ago, the other had clearly been just fine. How could he have developed an illness in such a short span? “What illness did the doctor say you have?” he asked.
“The doctor said that the Lord’s body has always been tough on the outside, but frail on the inside,” the steward answered. “This time, noxious wind has entered his body, and the cold weather made it worse, leading to this. He must recuperate well. Last night, the Lord was burning up to the point of danger; after listening to the doctor, three bowls of medicine were successively taken by him, and then the heat ebbed.”
The Magistrate nodded. “Rest well, then.”
“Wei Ce, it stands to reason that with you being so sick, we shouldn’t be disturbing you in the first place,” Tang Fan said. “However, there are some points of suspicion in the murder of your son, and we need verification.”
“Please ask, Sir. This humble one will say all I know,” Wei Ce answered weakly.
“Is there any discord between the Wei wife and concubines? How is the relationship between your son’s mother and the rest of them?”
Wei Ce smiled sourly. “It normally looks to be alright. Even my primary wife, Lady Chai, handled things impartially, treated the other concubines fairly, and was never exacting. I had wholly never expected that she would collude with her cousin to do something like this.”
“I heard that she’s your second wife?”
“When did your original wife die?”
“More than twenty years ago. She passed of illness after the birth of my eldest daughter.”
Tang Fan nodded, paused, then switched the subject. “Have you heard the recent rumors pertaining to the Wei home being haunted?”
“What do you think of them?”
Wei Ce was seemingly confused by his question, shaking his head blankly. “I am unsure of the meaning of your words, Sir.”
“My meaning is that the haunting rumors and the case broken out in your household might have some sort of connection between them. Think carefully; is there anyone that you’ve offended outside?”
Wei Ce pondered for a bit, but was ultimately lacking in energy, soon showing fatigue. “I’ve had myself act with prudence, but as a traveling salesman, strife inevitably occurs. Thinking of specific suspects is difficult.”
Tang Fan hummed. “Rest well, then. Have your steward take us on a tour around the household — we may need to question others.”
Wei Ce agreed. “After I get better, I will personally visit you all to apologize.”
Waving his hand so that the other didn’t need to get up, Tang Fan then left with Sui Zhou and the Magistrate. Under the steward’s guidance, the three went around the home; owing to the rapid-fire incidents, all of the servants had lacking smiles, caution within their movements.
Tang Fan asked the steward to call Wei Ce’s concubines over — Wei Zhuniang’s mother, Lady Yang, and the son’s mother, Lady Li, included — for individual questioning.
Before this, Magistrate Weng had already looked into the starting angle of inner-residence conflict, where homicide had come from jealousy over Lady Li having a son. Lady Li excluded, he had interviewed Wei Ce’s concubines, only to end up with no definite proof that indicated that the murderer was amongst them.
He had also made a detailed report of all that to Tang Fan; the reason why the latter had taken pains to call them all over was simply to confirm his own suspicions from them.
The Magistrate did not comprehend his intentions, however, only believing that Tang Fan didn’t trust his work. When the three of them left the Wei’s, he anxiously asked him, “Was there something lacking in this humble official’s procedure? Please offer your guidance, Sir.”
“When I was talking to Wei Ce, I asked him whether he had heard the rumors outside. Did either of you notice the expression he had?” Tang Fan countered, not really answering.
“Shamefully, I did not.”
“Hesitant,” Sui Zhou gave.
Tang Fan nodded. “Correct. It was hesitant, although only briefly.”
“Hesitant about what?” the Magistrate wondered.
“I guess he was hesitating on whether or not he wanted to tell us if he had heard it, or hadn’t.“
Seeing that Magistrate Weng didn’t quite get it, Tang Fan went on. “Afterwards, I asked the other Wei family members to see if they had heard the rumors. It was confirmed that the whole family had, and they didn’t betray anything unusual. Only the maids and servants were a bit uneasy from the haunting matter.”
Hearing that, Magistrate Weng went along that path of thought. “If that’s so, then at the bare minimum, it indicates that Wei Ce must be hiding something from us.”
“Right, and the contents of what he’s hiding are likely related to the rumors.”
Sui Zhou had arrived a few days late, but he too had heard them before. “Is Wei Ce from this county?”
The Magistrate pondered. “I don’t think so, but I don’t remember for a fact, either. I’ll check when I get back.”
“Check as soon as possible. At the end, I’ll have the Brocade Guard accompany your people to investigate Wei Ce’s ancestral home.”
“Is this your suspicion, Sir?” the other asked, confused.
Tang Fan nodded. “The rumors of the Wei family being haunted by a wronged ghost that wants lives may be false, but this ‘wind blowing from an empty cave’ may not be without a source. Regardless of whether he stole someone’s property or betrayed his lover, most of these rumors have one area of commonality — someone once died because of Wei Ce. Mixing that with his recent abnormality, I suspect that his illness is not him catching windchill at all, but him falling ill due to fright.”
Magistrate Weng understood. “You’re saying that he has a guilty conscience, and takes those rumors seriously?”
“Yes. A wronged ghost taking lives might not be the truth, but a later generation taking vengeance is a possibility. Wei Ce is not a local, and moved here many years ago; first, check for his ancestral lands, then go to his hometown to verify the rumors’ veracity.”
The other sighed in admiration. “This humble official never looked towards the rumors before, feeling that they were only nonsense, yet you’ve discovered a clue!”
Tang Fan laughed. “Don’t praise me so much. Were it not for our visit today, I would also be thinking that the rumors were just people’s senseless gossip. I’m not any superior to you.”
No matter what, with a trail to be had, the Magistrate’s spirits immediately heightened. After saying goodbye to Tang Fan and Sui Zhou, he quickly went to the county bureau to order his subordinates to get this underway.
Upon seeing him off, Sui Zhou beckoned to Tang Fan, who was a few steps away.
Not knowing his intent, Tang Fan walked over, only to hear the other say, “What do you want for dinner, Fluffy?”
Mister Tang’s face instantly crumbled, his recent bit of confident grace gone. “Hey now, my Count, can you not call me that? How bad would it be if people heard? If your tongue slips when we get back and Ah-Dong learns of it, that damned girl will surround me with calls of ‘Brother Fluffy’ all day long!”
Sui Zhou’s face was blank, no one able to see through to his thoughts. “That’s why I beckoned you over before I called you, so that no one else heard.”
“…Then just don’t call me it at all,” Tang Fan muttered.
The other acted like he hadn’t heard anything. “Red-braised chicken wings, broth-steamed bass, or flour-steamed meat?”
“All of them!” Tang Fan answered, immediately drooling.
The translator says: I could have left ‘Fluffy’ as ‘Maomao’, but that would actually make the nickname cute-sounding in English, as opposed to awful, which it is.