After Head Shopkeeper Song and Imperial Physician Jiang left, darkness shrouded the residence.
When night fell, the Fang Family was as peaceful as ever.
The two maidservants responsible for looking after the lights met up in the corner, getting closer with every lantern they inspected.
"Did you hear about what happened today?" one of them asked.
The other winked and smiled.
"Not just heard about it. I saw it myself." She giggled.
The first maidservant’s eyes twinkled.
"Tell me, tell me. Did Young Lady really force Young Master, and killed Young Master from excessive ejaculation?" she questioned.
The maidservant pursed her lips, then retracted her hands into her sleeves.
"I’m telling you, when I saw that Maidong standing there…" Just as she said this, the clatter of footsteps came from behind her.
The two servants jumped in fright and turned around to see a group of guards milling about from who knows where.
"Are you on nightwatch?" asked one of the maidservants, squeezing out a smile. She moved out of the way.
But the guards did not walk forward.
"What are you doing?" asked the head guard solemnly.
The two maid servants couldn’t help but step several paces away from each other.
"We’re attending to the lanterns," they squeaked.
The guards laughed coldly.
"Take them away." He waved his hands.
The two maidservants were immediately overcome with great emotion.
"But Sir, Sir, what did we do? We were just looking after the lanterns, not lazing around," they protested.
But the guards did not let them explain themselves and carted them away. The maidservants’ howls were suddenly stopped; obviously their mouths were stuffed.
This sort of scene was playing out all over the Fang residence.
A girl was shrieking in a small room, her voice pained.
"You damn hussy, you’re still not saying it," a maidservant shouted, flicking the lash in her hands.
The servant girl bound to a wooden stake screamed again.
"Ma’am, it was really Auntie Yuan who told me to go find Lady. I didn’t intentionally let what happened to Young Master leak," she said helplessly.
"You still refuse to admit your mistake!" shouted the maidservant, raising the whip again.
"Enough," Lady Fang said from behind them.
The maidesrvant let her arm drop.
Lady Fang stood up and looked hard at the servant girl.
"Treat her wound, then send her to the village, "she ordered.
So she would be sold in the end.
"Thank you, thank you, Lady," the servant girl sobbed, happiness flashing in her eyes.
Lady Fang ignored her and walked straight out. The flickering light of the lanterns illuminated the guards standing out there in the courtyard.
They milled in and out, often picking up sobbing and shrieking servant girls and women and taking them to black rooms.
Lady Fang watched part of the courtyard flicker in and out of darkness with the light of the lantern.
That was where Old Lady Fang resided.
It was different than it had been in the past. There were still many servant girls inside and out, but they were nervous, unlike their normal chattering selves.
When they saw Lady Fang approaching, they hurried to greet her while opening the curtains.
Concubine Yuan stood, jittery, as she saluted her from under the eaves.
Lady Fang did not look at her; directly walking in.
Old Lady Fang was on the oven-bed by the window sill, her eyes closed in tranquility.
"Mother, to answer the question, it was Concubine Yuan who made her go," said Lady Fang. "Concubine Yuan said that it was her negligence; she only told her to notify me, not to take heed of the people present or situation, to not to say too much."
Old Lady Fang made a noise of acknowledgement.
"It’s as she said." Old Lady Fang opened her eyes. "We do not need to make interrogation, just find a pretext for cleaning out everyone in the house."
Lady Fang made a noise of acknowledgement.
"We caught almost everyone today, but we cannot have them dispelled completely, lest they get suspicious," she said.
Old Lady Fang nodded.
Lady Fang looked at her with a rueful expression.
"Mother, Second Uncle Song is really…" she trailed off.
Old Lady Fang’s fierce expression stopped her from continuing.
"Whether it was deliberate on his part, or he was being used by someone else, we can no longer trust anyone," said Old Lady Fang.
Lady Fang nodded tearfully.
"Don’t be sad, this is good." Old Lady Fang nodded. "Sheathed or unsheathed, a knife is a knife. We have been blind and dumb to have been played for so many years. Finally, we can touch our enemy’s face. Is this not a joyous occasion?
Lady Fang nodded.
"Yes, I’m very happy." She ground her teeth together. "I have spent days and nights longing for this day. I would rather know death than be taken for a fool again."
Old Lady Fang said, "En. So we are not afraid. We must rouse our spirits. Okay, I will look after the household affairs; you just devote yourself to looking after Chengyu."
Tears sparkled in Lady Fang’s eyes at the thought of Chengyu.
"Miss Jun said that Chengyu is really fine?" she asked.
Old Lady Fang had told Lady Fang that Chengyu’s conditions was a deliberate ploy on Jun Zhenzhen’s part. Of course, Jun Zhenzhen would not really rape Fang Chengyu.
This was all a farce so that everyone would believe that Chengyu was taking medicine so that he could leave behind an heir.
Moreover, she told Lady Fang that Miss Jun said she would use medicine to disguise Chengyu’s condition so it would appear more serious. After a short time, he would be well again.
Lady Fang did not believe that medicine could make a person appear close to death, and even fool a doctor like Imperial Physician Jiang, but it was hard to maintain disbelief in the face of Fang Chengyu turning from a cripple to one who could stand and even have intercourse with a servant girl.
"He’s fine, don’t you worry," said Old Lady Fang. "Although the situation seems to be precarious now. You need to be careful."
No one could guarantee that those people would still want to play their tricks, and won’t instead resort to murder.
Lady Fang’s expression was grave.
This time, she would not let her son get hurt again.
Lady Fang departed from Old Lady Fang’s quarters. Concubine Yuan followed behind her, nervous.
Lady Fang had left Concubine Su and Fang Yunxiu and her sisters to watch over Fang Chengyu. When they saw Lady Fang return, they hurried to receive her.
"It is not early; you should go back now," Lady Fang said with exhaustion.
Fang Jinxiu wanted to say something, but stopped after a look from Fang Yuxiu. Concubine Su also shooed them out.
"Lady is tired. You kids know what to do," Concubine Su said seriously.
Fang Jinxiu hung her head and left with her sisters.
Concubine Yuan tentatively stepped forward.
"Lady, you should also take an early rest…" she started saying, reaching out to undo Lady Fang’s cloak.
Lady Fang let her take it off.
"You go ahead and rest early," she said. Then she looked at Concubine Su. "The house will be tidied up these next few days. You need to look after it."
Concubine Su made a sound of affirmation, then took her leave. Concubine Yuan awkardly followed her out.
"Is everything alright?" asked Concubine Su once they were out.
There were still some lingering fears in Concubine Yuan’s heart.
"There shouldn’t be a problem," she said. "I really did not purposely try to cause trouble for Young Master."
Concubine Su nodded.
"Lady and Old Lady are sensible; you don’t need to worry," she comforted.
Concubine Yuan patted her own chest.
"What happened today really scared me," she said quietly. "Who would have imagined that Young Master would do that kind of thing, that Young Lady would do that kind of thing, that Young Master, who had been so motionless for this long, had pretended to be naive, and would now play such a trick, it must’ve be exhausting…"
Concubine Su gave her a look.
"I think you will live." She frowned and sighed. "Do you really think you will be chased out? Don’t you think that Lady would hate to be without you?"
Concubine Yuan smiled with embarassment, then made a esture over her mouth to indicate her mouth was sealed.
Concubine Su leveled a look at her before walking ahead. When she got to the entrance, she turned around to see that Lady Fang’s silhouette had disappeared from the window.
She didn’t know that there would be no waking up.
When Fang Chengyu woke up, he woke up to surroundings that, for the first time, were unfamiliar.
He was a person who knew the bed well.