Lei Zhonglian wasn’t saying anything.
Manager Gao recovered his neutral smile.
"Old Lei, don’t blame others for jabbing at your sore spot and slapping your face," he said. "You people are always talking about reasons, talking about theories, talking about why."
At this, he frowned.
"Why do you always ask why?"
Lie Zhonglian lowered his head and didn’t speak. Manager Gao shook his head, then greeted Old Lady Fang and the others with a smile.
Lei Zhonglian also lifted his head and watched the noisy crowd.
"Because I don’t want to accept it," he muttered. "Because our loss was not fair."
"Enough already, what’s all this send off for? Don't do that," shouted Liu’er unpleasantly to the people standing in front of the carriage. "This is not some grand event."
Everyone looked awkward.
Lady Fang was completely unwilling to let go. She patted down the cushion of the carriage seat.
"Do not worry; I will take good care of Young Master," said Miss Jun, eyeing Fang Chengyu lying next to her.
"Chengyu, Chengyu," cried Lady Fang as she lifted the carriage curtain.
Fang Chengyu was covered in thick layers of beddings. He appeared to be asleep; neither talking nor moving.
"He is asleep. Don’t wake him up; the journey will be easier," said Miss Jun.
Liu’er did not hesitate to push down the curtains to block them from view.
"Drive, drive," she directly shouted out, ignoring Lady Fang and the others.
Lei Zhonglian who was squatting by a corner of the wall unwillingly stood up. He lowered his head and pulled on the horse reins.
"Go, go." Liu’er waved her hands.
Lei Zhonglian led the horses forth.
Liu’er jumped onto the back of the horse cart and urged them forward.
So they really were going, and without giving everyone time to respond. Old Lady Fang and the other rushed to make it to the main entrance.
The guards had been waiting outside the gates for some time. When they saw the carriage appear, they pressed in around it. Lei Zhonglian got onto the carriage and raised his whip.
The whip did not near the horses, and neither did it fall. It made a crisp ringing sound in the air.
The carriage rolled forward nimbly and quietly.
Old Lady Fang and the others just managed to stand in front of the door.
"Why are they not waiting; how could they drive a carriage without rules like this," grumbled Concubine Yuan. "Where did you find a driver without eyes like this."
Manager Gao, standing off to the side, turned his head in embarrassment.
Indeed, the driver was without eyes.
"Who is the one driving the cart? Why haven’t I seen him before," asked Lady Fang with a frown.
Manager Gao stepped forward to pay his respects.
"He’s from the shop," he said vaguely.
He wasn’t actually from the household? Other than concern for Chengyu, Lady Fang did not care about anything or anyone else.
"Is he reliable?" she asked in surprise.
This person… he couldn’t really be said to be reliable or unreliable?
Especially for Lady Fang.
Manager Gao almost didn’t dare say his name.
"It was my choice," said Old Lady Fang, explaining on behalf of Manager Gao.
When she heard this, Lady Fang did not ask again. She simply rubbed tears from her eyes as she looked in the direction that the carriage left.
There was no one to be seen on the road.
"Why did they leave so quickly?" she said in amazement, her heart seizing. "Can Chengyu undergo all the bumping?"
She started to question the coachman’s capabilities again.
Was it okay?
The carts at the shop were loaded with goods, so they could be reckless there, but they weren’t people who served others.
That said, she seemed to have seen this coachman somewhere before.
Lady Fang went blank, then immediately her face paled and her body started to tremble.
"Mother." She turned around. Her voice shook. "Is the driver you picked surnamed Lei?"
Old Lady Fang went silent for a moment.
"He is," she said.
What is it about the surname Lei? The people there did not understand.
But Lady Fang’s face was twisted with grief and indignation. She seemed to have a thousand things she wanted to say to Old Lady Fang.
"Why?" But in the end, this was the only word she could say.
Old Lady Fang looked at her and sighed lightly.
"We will talk about it when we go back," she said softly, grabbing Lady Fang’s hand.
When they saw Lady Fang’s response, the surrounding servants did not dare ask despite not understanding.
They couldn’t speak so wantonly at home anymore. After going through many events, Lady and Old Lady’s tempers were much worse.
Everyone followed them back in.
Fang Yunxiu and Fang Yuxiu fell behind two steps and watched their mother’s back apprehensively.
"What’s with the coachman? Mother knows him?" Fang Yunxiu asked quietly.
And it seemed to be no happy association.
"Do you remember when Father met with an accident?" Fang Yuxiu said.
At that time, they had were just four and two so they didn’t actually remember it. When they got older, they had heard about it from other people, but because it was not a happy occasion, talking about it would just hurt more, so no one spoke too much of it.
Fang Yunxiu shook her head.
"I don’t even remember what Father looked like very well," she mumbled.
Fang Yuxiu smiled and caressed the back of Fang Yunxiu’s hand.
"Don’t worry about that," she said. "Everyone has their destinies. In this life, we were fated to become father and daughter, but we were not destined to become close."
At this, she paused.
"One of the bodyguards of Father was surnamed Lei."
Fang Yunxiu suddenly realized, then became confused.
At the time, almost all the people Father had brought with him died. Only two or three people survived to bring Father back, who had only one breath left in him.
"He was one of the guards?" she whispered.
Fang Yuxiu nodded.
"So he actually stayed in our family’s exchange firm." Fang Yunxiu was troubled. "Was it for atonement?"
Fang Yuxiu did not laugh. She would not laugh at her elder sister’s heartfelt kindness.
Kindness was never a characteristic that should be laughed at.
"That I don’t know. It was from ten years ago," said Fang Yuxiu. "It was probably Grandmother’s decision."
At the moment, in Old Lady Fang’s inner chambers, Lady Fang was looking at Old Lady Fang with a tearstained face.
"Mother, when you let him stay, I didn’t say anything. But now, why did you let him escort Chengyu?" she sobbed. "You c-couldn’t want Chengyu and his father to be alike…"
She couldn’t finish her sentence as she tried to muffle her sobs.
Old Lady Fang sighed lightly.
"I also don’t know why," she said frankly. "It was Zhenzhen who mentioned that she wanted him to drive the carriage."
Lady Fang stared blankly.
Old Lady Fang shouted for Manager Gao who was waiting outside the door. He rushed in.
"Miss Jun said that Lei Zhonglian drove carriages well," he said. He explained how Lei Zhonglian came to know Miss Jun.
So Jun Zhenzhen had actually lost five thousand taels of silver at the Lantern Festival.
‘This child was really just like before; someone who did not eat the food of common mortals and saw money as dirt,’ thought Lady Fang, but that was not the important thing.
"Then she should have said that Lei Zhonglian was good at guarding things. What does that have to do with driving a carriage?" She frowned. "Say, didn’t you say he was someone who watched carts? Has he driven a carriage before?
Old Lady Fang and Manager Gao exchanged glances.
Yes, who could have known. Perhaps Miss Jun had a unique insight.
They left the city for the official road. There were very few people around. Lei Zhonglian flicked his whip once and the horses slowed. Now the carriage’s pace wouldn’t jolt much.
Lie Zhonglian put the horsewhip down, and then took out a canteen from his waist. He took a swig.
"How many years have you driven carts for?"a soft girl’s voice asked from behind him, scaring him.
At some unknown time, Miss Jun had lifted the carriage curtains.
And what she asked…
Lei Zhonglian was silent for a moment.
"I’ve driven them for four years," he answered.
What four years? The guard astride the horse frowned at him.
Wasn’t this Lei Zhonglian an odd-jobs worker that watched carriages for the exchange firm? Manager Gao would send him out sometimes.
When did he drive carriages?
Was he just trying to curry favor with Young Lady by subscribing to her nonsense?
Miss Jun nodded at him and did not question it. Her gaze turned to Lei Zhonglian’s right hand.
"Was that hand ruined at that time?" she asked, her slender finger-tips poking out from her sleeve to gesture at Lei Zhonglian’s right hand.
As if licked by a tongue of fire, Lei Zhonglian felt his right hand sting with a burn. He subconsciously pulled it to his chest.
But he knew, the fire licking at his hand was not that girl’s finger but her words.