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Chapter Fifty-Six: Support
Hua Zhi Ming had been kept in the dark by Zhang shi. He had originally felt puzzled why Third Niece would have someone send a letter nearly at night to him as she was living harmoniously with Xian Wang.
After he read the letter, he was filled with both urgency and anger. In the end, it all turned into a sigh. The end of the letter mentioned that Assistant Minister Zhang could not manage his family properly, that he let his son favor the concubine and neglect the wife. It was likely that he would be demoted and investigated. The primary examiner of the spring examinations would probably change.
Next year, Qing Mao was going to attend the exams with Ding Chen from Eldest Brother's family. It would actually be good if the examiner was changed. At least, no one would talk behind their backs that Qing Mao's results came unfairly. He should not have agreed to Zhang shi marrying his daughter to the young master of the Zhou Family in the first place. Otherwise, how would his daughter be suffering so?
"Come, give this letter to Qing Mao to read. Ask him if he is willing to help meet and bring his sister back tomorrow." Hua Zhi Ming handed the letter to a trusted servant before sitting quietly in his room. Watching as the sky darkened, he waved away the servant who came in to light the lamp. He thought of Zhang shi, and of his son who had such hopes resting on him. In the darkness, he sighed heavily.
"Prepare a carriage."
When Zhang shi heard that her husband had gone out, she asked the steward in shock, "Why is Laoye going out at this time—did he say where he was going?"
"Taitai, Laoye said before leaving that he was going to talk with the marquis at the marquis fu." The steward did not say that Laoye had a terrible expression when he left, and did not dare to even mention it.
"So late, and he is going to the marquis fu." Zhang shi's brow furrowed as she said, "It is almost curfew. Is Laoye planning on spending the night in the marquis fu?"
The steward bowed his head and said, "Laoye did not say."
"Nevermind." Zhang shi knew that Laoye would not say so much to a steward, and did not inquire further. Just as she was preparing to have the steward leave, a servant came to report that the young master had come.
Zhang shi loved her son and would not bear for her son to wait outside. She hurriedly had the servant invite her son in. Seeing that his expression was not well, she asked worriedly, "Son, why is your expression so ugly? Is something wrong?"
"Mother, not me, but Jiejie is in trouble." Hua Qing Mao was only a year and a half younger than his older sister, and the two had a very good and loving relationship. So when he saw the letter that Tangmei had sent, he was so angry he had smashed the cup in his hand. If it wasn't for his manservant who stopped him, he would have gone to Assistant Minister Zhou's fu already to take his jiejie back to the fu.
"Your jiejie…" Zhang shi's smile froze. She then jerked the corner of her lips and said, "Your jiejie's matter is an accident; do not worry so much. You are going to attend the spring examination next year—are matters of the inner compound things that men should manage?" Zhang shi thought of how Hua Ding Chen of the marquis fu was also going to attend the exams and felt extremely bothered. Her son would not lose to any person!
"Mother, you are still keeping it a secret for me. Jiejie miscarried out of anger because of Brother-in-law's family. Aren't you angry?" Hua Qing Mao really did not dare to believe that Mother was saying the matter of Jiejie's miscarriage was a small matter. He looked in disbelief at Zhang shi. "She is your daughter, my jiejie."
"Of course I know she is your jiejie." Zhang shi waved her hand and had the servants in the room leave. She then lowered her voice and said, "But Assistant Minister Zhou is the examiner for next year's examinations…"
"I do not care who he is!" Hua Qing Mao interrupted Zhang shi's words and said angrily, "I only know that my jiejie has been treated cruelly by this family."
"Child, you are so muddled." Zhang shi saw that her son was really going to go to Assistant Minister Zhang's fu to make a fuss and urgently said, "We can resolve your jiejie's matter in the future. When you are accomplished, who will dare to bully her?"
"But I'm afraid before I become accomplished, Jiejie will be ruined by this family." Hua Qing Mao lowered his head and his tone was slightly cool. "Also, if Jiejie's matter is made public, Assistant Minister Zhou doesn't even need to think of being the examiner next year."
"What do you want to do?" Zhang shi stood and said harshly, "Qing Mao, do not be stupid."
"Mother, I'm very clear of mind." Hua Qing Mao raised his head to look at Zhang shi. "If I only advance by stepping on the heads of my relatives, then I do not want to advance at all because I cannot stand with a straight back and my head high."
Zhang shi looked at her son who left in large strides and was dazed. A moment later, she thought of a more important matter. Who had told this to Qing Mao? If no one said anything, Qing Mao definitely would not know of this matter.
"Who came to see Laoye or the young master today?" Zhang shi found one of her trusted servants and asked.
"There was no one but…"
Xian Wang Fu had sent a letter to Laoye.
"Hua Xi Wan again." Zhang shi spat. "That daughter of a whore keeps on ruining my good matters. It is horrid."
The servant did not dare to speak and looked down on their feet.
The Zhou Fu was exceptionally busy today. There were several carriages that were parked at the gate. The young master of Assistant Minister Hua's family had come with several carriages saying that he was returning the bride price of the Zhou Family and asking for a divorce.
It might have been that the people of the Zhou Family knew they were guilty, or for another reason, they did not open the door. This caused the bystanders to marvel.
While Hua Qing Mao was only seventeen, he was not of a rash nature. The Zhou Fu did not open the gates, but he did not make a fuss. He only bowed towards the main gates of the Zhou Fu and said, "Official Zhang, the young master of your fu has favored the concubine and neglected the wife, treating my sister cruelly and causing her miscarriage. I will not pursue this matter due to the past relationship with the Zhou Family. Today, this student has come to return the bride price the Zhou Family had put down, with the one request that the Zhou Family can let my jiejie have a path to survival, and allow my sister to divorce the young master and for them to live separately."
When the bystanders finished hearing the speech, they all inhaled sharply. So it was favoring the concubine and neglecting the wife, and they actually caused a child to pass away. This was too outrageous.
Wasn't Assistant Minister Zhang a scholar—how could he raise such a son who did not even care for conduct and order?
If Hua Zhi Ming came to act like this, other people would feel he was pressuring the Zhou Family, but if Hua Qing Mao did this, other people would only think this was a youth who cared for his older sister. They would feel that the Zhou Family were bullies, abusing the daughter of another family while not daring to show their faces.
The Zhou Family had not expected Hua Qing Mao to mention that ugly affair in front of so many people. They instantly stopped pretending that no one was home. The nephew of Assistant Minister Zhou came out intending to invite Hua Qing Mao into the fu, but Hua Qing Mao refused.
"It would not be good to keep troubling the fu. Please, have my sister come out, and then come with me to the Ministry of Revenue to cancel the original certificate of marriage. Therefore, no one will owe anything in this matter."
The nephew of the Zhou Family saw Hua Qing Mao's attitude and marveled inside. Was Hua Qing Mao intending to break off all relations with the Zhou Family? Otherwise, why would he have come with twice the bride price?
Now, he wasn't even willing to enter the gates and allowed other people to listen to these words. Wasn't this slapping the Zhou Family on the face?"
"Master Hua, really, you…" The nephew of the Zhou Family gave a smile and said, "Let's go into the fu and discuss this. There is no matter that is unresolvable. It is not just us who look bad with this matter made public; it is not good for you as well."
"The culprit doesn't feel any shame, so how can I, the victim, feel embarrassment?" Hua Qing Mao avoided the hand of the Zhou Family's nephew. "Please, let my sister come out."
The nephew of the Zhou Family saw this and knew that the Hua Family was determined to burn bridges with the Zhou Family. He felt slightly unhappy. If Yi'an Marquis Fu came to make a fuss, then he would feel slightly intimidated, but he did not feel that there was any danger in offending this Assistant Minister Hua's line.
"Ho, it is really busy here." Just as the nephew of the Zhou Family was about to break the peace, he heard a sharp voice from nearby. He lifted his head to look and saw a carriage with the insignia of Xian Wang Fu slowly coming towards them. There was a diagram of a fiery phoenix on the procession; it seemed like the procession of a qinwang fei.
When he saw the person who had spoken, the nephew of the Zhou Family started to sweat. Wasn't this Mu Tong, the chief steward taijian of Xian Wang Fu? Then the person who was sitting in the carriage could only be Xian Wang Fei who was deeply loved by Xian Wang.
When he remembered that Xian Wang Fei and Tangsao were of the same bloodline, the nephew of the Zhou Family knew the situation was not good. Now, even if the Zhou Family did not want a divorce, it was impossible. They would probably have to make it up to Assistant Minister Hua's family. Otherwise, there would be great trouble.
"This student greets Xian Wang Fei with wishes of longevity and good health." The nephew of the Zhou Family did not dare to dawdle and hurriedly went forward to bow. The people in the surroundings saw this and hurriedly took a few steps back in fear they would offend the noble personage. Watching a spectacle was a habit, but if they provoked something due to this, then it would not be good.
"There is no need for such courtesy. Please rise." A soft female voice came out of the carriage. Even though people could not see her face, the people who heard this voice all felt that this person was a great beauty.
"I heard that my tangjie wants a divorce from your fu's young master, so I have made a special visit today. Am I disturbing you two?"
"Tangmei, if Sister knows you are so concerned for her, she will cry in joy." Hua Qing Mao was overjoyed. Originally, he had been worried the Zhou Family would play tricks. But now that Xian Wang Fei had appeared, they would have other things to consider.
"If that is the case, then please continue. I am just a woman and do not understand these major matters, so I will just listen from the side." The voice from the carriage was still beautiful and warm as though she was just passing by.
The nephew of the Zhou Family had a face full of cold sweat. Turning, he gave a look to the manservants behind him for them to go immediately to notify Eldest Uncle and Aunt. Wang Fei had arrived, and if the Zhou Family members did not come to welcome her, it would not be acceptable. At that time, the Zhou Family wouldn't just be guilty of favoring the concubine and neglecting the wife—they would also have the crime of slighting the Imperial Family.
"The wind is very strong outside. How about Wang Fei coming into the fu to rest for a moment?"
There was no movement from the carriage, and even the servants in the surroundings were silent. It was as though the words the nephew of the Zhou Family had said were a mirage and no one heard them.
The nephew of the Zhou Family smiled awkwardly and did not dare to speak any longer. He had no title or scholarly achievement; he really did not have the qualifications to welcome the wang fei.
Looking at the silent carriage, he sighed inside. His cousin really could find trouble. Right now, they had offended the Hua Family. Whether or not the Zhou Family could overcome this obstacle depended on whether or not his tangsao would be willing to speak on their behalf.
However, as his cousin had done such a thing, even if Tangsao was of a gentle personality, she probably would not forget the pain of losing a child.
Oh, he was afraid that in the future, all the males of the Zhou Family would have problems making a match of matrimony.
When the Zhou Taitai heard that the son of Assistant Minister Hua had come, she had not kept it on her mind. When she heard the servant report that Xian Wang Fei's carriage was at the gates, her expression instantly changed. She hurriedly walked towards the gates and said, "Invite your mistress to the guest hall. Remember to have her clean and attired before she sees the guests."
That prodigal son really had provoked great trouble this time!
Translator Ramblings: Status is everything. Status also trumps gender, especially for the imperial family. Anyone remember He Heng's sister?