The Glory After Rebirth Chapter 85
Chapter 85 Are You Beginning To Regard Your Uncle As An Outsider?
“The mine director is a discreet man but has a lust for women. Apart from his wife, he has several concubines and is also a regular customer of various brothels. That Lady Jingwu in the Pear Blossom Garden is his new sweetheart, but somehow she managed to gain the trust of the mine director, which is very surprising.”
“If she’s just a common prostitute, Ling Zhaowen wouldn’t have dispatched her to manipulate the mine director.”
“Second Master Ling also wants the account book of Jia family. We… ”
“Now that he has already figured out a way to get the account book without alarming the mine director, which will spare us a lot of needless trouble, I’ll consult with Ling Zhaowen after Little Liu arrives tonight and send him to the Pear Blossom Garden.”
It was almost dusk. All households were in the busiest hour, and Ling family was no exception. Masters had returned. Servants were either serving their masters or bustling around in the kitchen, not having a moment they could call their own.
The back door of Ling family was also opened. A hunter who had just returned from hunting on this day came to deliver game. There was also a fisherman who specially brought a big bucket of fish which were still alive and kicking.
The game and the big wooden bucket required quite a few men to carry. Servants were going in and out of the back door, yelling constantly. The butler of Ling family was doing accounts with the hunter and the fisherman, making the next deal.
It was a sight of busyness and uproar with all kinds of sounds and voices.
A servant in a blue gown was dragging a handcart laden with firewood, which had just been sent here by a firewood seller, into the backyard. After that, he was bidden to help carry game, sweating buckets. It was not until all work at the back door was finally done and the door was closed that he got some time to have a rest. He raised his hand to wipe off the sweat and took a sip of water.
Out of force of habit, the man stretched out his hand intending to fish a towel out of his clothes to wipe his face but touched something else. After a brief change of his countenance, he stood up and hurriedly left.
“Wu Er’niu, where are you going?” someone called from behind.
“To the latrine.”
“Bah. You’re such a frequent latrine-goer.”
Wu Er’niu hurried to the latrine and took a piece of paper out of his clothes. As he read it, his face paled visibly, but his eyes were fixed on one of those lines for quite a long time.
After a while, when he came out of the latrine, his face had returned to normal.
It was getting dark. Masters’ meals had already been served. Chefs also prepared a meal for servants with a cauldron. There were meat dishes, vegetable dishes and also soup. Servants, who had had another hectic day, sat down to enjoy the supper, chatting and laughing. Some were bragging and some others were telling dirty jokes. Everybody was talking whatever it was that they felt might perk up their spirits, which made the kitchen an uproarious sight.
It was not until night fell and all oil lamps had been lit that the group of people finished the meal and returned to their respective rooms.
After going back to his bedroom, while nobody was paying attention, Wu Er’niu secretly broke his finger with his teeth, hastily and messily wrote a couple of words on a piece of cloth torn off from his clothes, then quickly stuffed it into his front inner pocket for fear that somebody might notice. He kept looking left and right, a thinly disguised nervous look on his face.
When leaving the room, he appeared a little hesitant, paused and then turned around several times on the spot.
“What are you doing, Wu Er’niu? Go and wash. There won’t be any water left if you don’t hurry, and then we’ll have to put up with your foul odor for another night!” A man walking by the doorway yelled at him after seeing his inexplicable behavior.
Wu Er’niu froze with a somewhat unnatural expression on his face. “I’m going right now. I’m going right now.”
The man who had just yelled at him flicked a glance of confusion at him, mumbled something and then left, ignoring him.
Wu Er’niu hurriedly walked to the bathhouse, roughly took a bath and then left. Most servants had already returned to their bedrooms. There was only one lamp hanging outside the bathhouse giving off dim yellow light.
Wu Er’niu looked left and right. After confirming that nobody else was around, he walked into the shadows on the side and felt his way to the foot of the wall. This was an outer wall of the mansion, on the other side of which was a narrow alley. It was very high and people had to climb up to the top of it to see the outside. Crouching down, Wu Er’niu meowed. In response, another meow came from outside. Both meows sounded unprofessional. Anybody could tell they were made by poor imitators.
He quickly fished out the strip of material on which a couple of illegible words had been written in blood, frantically picked up a stone, wrapped it up in the strip of material, firmly tied it and then heavily threw it over the wall outside.
A thud was heard and then another shoddy meow came.
On hearing it, Wu Er’niu sighed with relief and then hastily left the foot of the wall.
Not long after he left, a man walked to the position where he had been, checked around in suspicion and murmured perplexedly, “It’s so weird. There’s no cat. Why did Wu Er’niu come here?”
Having found no cat, the man left as well.
“It’s completely dark already. When will your man come?” Ling Zhang asked Yuwen Tong.
After Yuwen Tong said that Little Liu, who was good at forging account books, would arrive on this night, Ling Zhang had been looking forward to meeting him all along.
“Relax,” Yuwen Tong bade him to be more patient.
“By the way, the local government has enforced martial law and also imposed a curfew. He won’t get caught, will he?” Ling Zhang was worried.
But his words aroused no concern whatsoever in Yuwen Tong. “This task is of the lowest level of difficulty. If he gets caught, I don’t see why I should let him stay in my team.” Speechless, Ling Zhang silently forced back the words on the tip of his tongue.
“What do you think about the suggestion I made a while ago?” Seeing that he kept silent, Yuwen Tong asked him.
Ling Zhang nodded. “No problem. I’ll talk to my uncle. But… you did it so quick. I didn’t even know who the woman sent by my uncle was yet, and you’ve already found out every detail.”
“It was not that difficult to find out,” Yuwen Tong replied calmly.
Upon hearing this, Yao Yi standing not far away silently raised his head to look into the sky. The marshal nearly skinned him alive because of this matter, the thought of which still sent chills down his spine.
Ling Zhang waited sitting in the Green Bamboo Mansion until the Hai Hour (21:00). At exactly the Hai Hour, Yao Yi walked inside and reported, “Marshal, Childe Ling, Little Liu arrived.”
Ling Zhang looked outside. As expected, a man in black took a flying leap over the rooftop of his house and landed onto the courtyard of the Green Bamboo Mansion. He was wearing a black night-suit just like the next guard, only that he looked thinner, the lower half of his face behind a piece of black cloth.
There was a striking resemblance between his gait and that of Yao Yi and others, which was neat, clean and sure-footed. He didn’t seem travel-worn at all.
“Your subordinate Zhang Liu pays his respect to you, Marshal!” The man knelt down on one knee, lowered his head and saluted Yuwen Tong.
“You may rise. It has been a long journey. You must be tired.”
“I’m performing my sworn duty. I don’t feel tired at all.”
Zhang Liu rose to his feet, respectfully standing before Yuwen Tong. He seemed to be a little surprised by the presence of Ling Zhang and flicked a glance of curiosity at him.
“This is Childe Ling, the eldest grandson of Lord Ling. You should pay your respect to him.”
“Yes, marshal.” Zhang Liu nodded and turned to face Ling Zhang. “I’m Zhang Liu. It’s my honor to meet you, Childe Ling.”
“That’s very courteous of you, Guard Zhang,” Ling Zhang smiled and then stood up. “I’ll go and talk to my uncle first. I suppose you have a lot to catch up on as well.” Yuwen Tong knew that he was trying to give them some privacy. Originally, he wanted to ask him to stay, but then, as if something had just occurred to him, he changed his mind and nodded. “I’ll be here waiting for your message to come.”
“Okay,” said Ling Zhang, who then nodded at Zhang Liu and left.
After Ling Zhang walked out of the room, Zhang Liu immediately removed the mask and looked at Yuwen Tong, curiosity gleaming in his eyes. “Marshal, is this Childe Ling the one you have an engagement to?”
“Yeah.” Yuwen Tong was not at all surprised by the curiosity of his subordinate.
“He seems to be a lot younger than you.” Zhang Liu gave an innocent sigh of amazement.
Yuwen Tong’s face darkened.
Yao Yi hurriedly gave a cough and said to Zhang Liu, “Little Liu, tell us about the situation in the capital city.”
Zhang Liu grunted “Oh”, left this matter aside and immediately started talking about what had happened in the capital city. “There haven’t been any noticeable changes in the capital city, except for that Second Master and Second Mistress were summoned to the imperial palace once. They looked very unhappy when they came back. Second Master even closed the door and lost his temper. He criticized you, saying that you’d been neglecting your family since you reached adulthood, that you were ungrateful, that you put your family in a dilemma and disgraced the family name, that…”
Yao Yi deliberately gave a cough again, an embarrassed look on his face. After casting a glance at Yuwen Tong, he said to Zhang Liu, “Little Liu, skip the criticism and go straight to the point.”
“Okay,” Zhang Liu gave a nod and continued, “He knew that you’d come to Tanyang, and he has already secretly sent some men to find out how your engagement to Childe Ling came to your knowledge. Furthermore, on the very night Deputy Captain received your letter, Zhang Chong’s memorial to the throne arrived, which was temporarily distrained by Lord Zhao.”
“I see. Anything else?”
“When I left the capital city, nobody else knew you were in Tanyang. They all thought that you would return to the capital city soon and went to visit Second Master and Second Mistress.”
After saying this, Zhang Liu fell silent again.
Yao Yi covered his forehead, speechless.
Clearly Yuwen Tong had become used to this. “Now I have a full knowledge of the situation in the capital city. There’s a task for you.”
“At your service, Marshal.”
In the courtyard of Ling Zhaowen’s abode, Ling Zhang conveyed the suggestion of Yuwen Tong to Ling Zhaowen.
Ling Zhaowen had no objection. “I’m glad to help. Later, I’ll have someone send word to the Pear Blossom Garden and arrange for Guard Zhang to enter the Pear Blossom Garden.”
“Thank you for your trouble, uncle. I’ll go back and tell Yuwen Tong.”
“There’s no need to thank me. We’re family. Are you beginning to regard your uncle as an outsider?”
Ling Zhang was stunned. After quite a while he understood the undertone contained in Ling Zhaowen’s words. His face faintly flushed. “That was just a casual remark of mine, uncle. What are you thinking about?”
“What am I thinking about? I’m not thinking about anything.” Ling Zhaowen watched him with a mischievous look on his face. “Why are you angry?”
Ling Zhang tightened his lips, abruptly turned around and left.
Seeing that his nephew left without saying goodbye just like what he used to do when he threw a tantrum in childhood, Ling Zhaowen couldn’t help feeling amused.
“It seems that the old man’s eyes are indeed sharper. This time things might really turn out as he expected.”
“My dear, what was it that you and Zhang’er were talking about just now? Why are you smiling so happily?” Fu Caiwei carrying a tray of snack walked inside and put the tray down onto the table of Ling Zhaowen.
“Let me tell you something interesting,” Ling Zhaowen lowered his voice and described Ling Zhang’s reaction to Fu Caiwei.
“Don’t snatch at every chance to tease that kid. What if he alienates Marshal because of this?” Fu Caiwei asked worriedly in disapproval of her husband’s making fun of Ling Zhang.
“Rest assured. Though Zhang’er has always been mild and obedient since childhood, when it comes to dealing with his own matters, he always makes decision himself. He’s not the kind of person who will change his attitude merely because of a couple of remarks of mine,” Ling Zhaowen said with certainty. He was totally unworried.
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