“Cousin, look at that monkey. It looks so fun!” With a pair of glistening eyes, Lu XiaoBao was watching the monkey perform tricks, wanting to buy one and bring it home. As the clothed monkey climbed up and down the bamboo pole with agility, it looked very pleasing.
On the other hand, Zhuang Zhong’s heart had turned bitter while his palms were sweating. Currently, he was in no mood to appreciate it as he wished he had eyes all over his body so he could observe his surroundings. He knew that Lu Feng was an upright and brave man, but he never thought that Lu Feng would use his own son as bait! In this world, there were no telephones, trackers, martial arts skills of locating people through smell, or even a well-trained scent tracking dog. If Lu XiaoBao really ended up lost, they might never be able to find him again.
He was unsure if Lu Feng was too invested in catching the abductors or was too confident in his ability. If Zhuang Zhong was in his position, he would have been reluctant to involve his children in such a dangerous situation. After all, if something went wrong, he would have trouble continuing on with his life normally after that. More importantly, as a man, Lu Feng’s decision was understandable. However, in this case, Fifth Aunt did not even hesitate when she gave up Lu XiaoBao. The other ladies also did not object and were blindly optimistic.
In the end, Zhuang Zhong could not help but raise his opinions about it. However, several of the ladies just smiled and said that Lu XiaoBao was a capable young man from a distinguished family. If he could not do these things, how could he lead an army to fight in the future. Zhuang Zhong then thought: what kind of mindset was this when he was only this big now?! Nonetheless, as his parents did not seem to particularly care, Zhuang Zhong also did not say anything further. After all, he also wanted to catch the abductors, and this was the best possible move they could take.
The decision to group Lu XiaoBao and Zhuang Zhong together was also made on the spot because they felt that the two together gave off an “easy to abduct” feeling.
Lu XiaoBao, who was eight years old this year, was not as tall and powerful as the rest of the Lu family despite looking dignified and strong. His round statue made him look sturdy, but he was not tall and appeared like a six or seven years old child. This, coupled with his round eyes and tender-looking face, gave him an extremely innocent appearance. However, even then, eight years old was still a tender age, as he was only in primary school and would not be able to do much either when faced with such a matter.
All the way, Zhuang Zhong just felt uneasy. Although he wanted to catch the abductors, he really did not want a child to disappear from his own hands either.
When XiaoBao saw Zhuang Zhong’s serious expression, he patted his chest and said, “Cousin, do not be afraid. XiaoBao will protect you.”
Hearing that, Zhuang Zhong did not know whether to laugh or cry. “XiaoBao, why are you not afraid at all?”
Lu XiaoBao blinked. “Why should I be afraid?”
“Those people are abductors. If you get abducted, you may not be able to come back.”
Lu XiaoBao grinned brightly, showing sharp canine teeth. “I am not afraid! XiaoBao is very good and will not suffer any loss. Cousin, do not worry, the men of the Lu family are very powerful!”
This made Zhuang Zhong even more worried. “Later, do not show off. These people are very cruel. Just remember to leave a mark along the way and wait for us to save you.”
Like a chicken pecking rice, Lu XiaoBao nodded his head. “Cousin, there is no need to worry because XiaoBao knows what to do. XiaoBao is going to be a great general in the future. If I cannot do this well, I will not be able to think about such a future anymore.”
In the end, Zhuang Zhong was still not reassured and repeatedly advised him along the way. After all, how could a child’s words be trusted.
About half an hour in the streets, a crowd surge caused Zhuang Zhong and Lu XiaoBao to be separated. Even though he knew that such a moment would come, Zhuang Zhong still panicked considerably, and his voice even trembled.
The Yamen runners and the Lu family, who had been hiding around, revealed themselves and followed the target. However, unexpectedly, there were four suspicious men running in different directions. Nonetheless, because they could separate into groups and pursue different routes, it was not a big deal to them.
Zhuang Zhong, who finally managed to squeeze out of the crowd, gave chase in one direction. He met Lu balang, who was beating up a person, and quickly came forward to ask, “Has the person been caught?”
“No, this man was used to confuse us.”
“Help me. I do not know anything. A woman gave me money and told me to help by running off with a sack when there was a crowd. I did not do anything! Please spare my life, official…” Initially, the person was insistent on not speaking, but after being beaten badly, he finally confessed.
Zhuang Zhong hastily asked, “What does the woman look like?”
“The woman wore a veiled hat, so I could not see clearly.”
“What kind of clothes and hat was she wearing?”
Even though the person described the woman, such attire was quite common among the women in the capital, and his information proved to be of no value. Unable to dig out more information, Lu balang kicked him and said, “Take this man back to the Yamen.”
The man exclaimed, “I did not do anything and just ran about in this bustling place. What crime did I commit?! What you are doing now is harming the commoners.”
Lu balang coldly hummed, took out a money bag from his person, and threw it on the man. “You stole my money and were caught together with the loot!”
Following the original agreement, Zhuang Zhong, Lu balang, and the others eventually returned to the designated place. Although everyone had gathered together, nothing had been achieved.
Lu Feng raged, “This bastard, we had so many pairs of eyes on the lookout, and yet he still slipped away from under our watch.”
“This…this, what should we do…” At this point, the head constable’s legs were already weakened with fright, as the one they lost was the son of the general. Although Lu Feng was the one who had suggested the bait, the head constable could not afford to suffer the repercussions. From the start, he did not agree, but it was Lu Feng who had insisted on it. Besides, according to Lu Feng’s ability, he thought they would be able to catch all of the abductors, but in the end, they went for wool and came home shorn1“偷鸡不成蚀把米” was translated as “went for wool and came home shorn” which approximately means to “seek to better themselves or make themselves rich, but end by losing what they already have”. It might not be a direct translation but the meaning was similar so I decided to translate it as so.. Apart from losing his future official career, it was uncertain what he would be subjected to when their anger was vented on him.
Meanwhile, Zhuang Zhong also did not feel good either, as the child had been lost from his hands.
“Look at you. It is not the end yet. If you were on the battlefield, you would have died a hundred times.” With such a roar from Lu Feng, everyone’s backbone straightened.
“Let us keep an eye on these people, as they will certainly continue on with their crimes. I do not believe that I will fail to catch one.”
The place where tricks were performed was a favorite spot for children, and it was also the place where children easily got nabbed. With a group of people there, they really did manage to catch one of the abductors, but it was not the one who took away Lu XiaoBao.
After that, there were no more gains, and it was determined on the next day that, together with Lu XiaoBao, a total of 32 children went missing. The number was tremendous and a huge shock. Besides Lu XiaoBao, there were also several children of the officials in the capital, one of whom was the son of the vice minister of the Court of State Ceremonial2 In “鸿胪寺少卿”, the “鸿胪寺” (honglu si) represents the “Court of State Ceremonial” while “少卿” is the denotation of position, more specifically the vice minister position. .
That night, Zhuang Zhong did not return to the marquis household and only ordered someone to inform them that he was staying at the Lu’s. For the whole night, he did not manage to sleep well and got up before dawn. When he asked around, he then realized that the Lu family had already started their morning exercises. When he arrived, he discovered that even women were practicing.
The Lu family’s martial arts training ground was very big, almost the size of a football field. It was no wonder then that they chose to build their place of dwelling here, as it would be hard to have such a big place in a location where most officials live. In the capital, land was expensive, and housing prices were no lower than those in the future.
When Lu shiyiniang spotted Zhuang Zhong, she put down the stone padlock-shaped dumbbell in her hand and skipped to him. “Cousin, you came!”
However, Zhuang Zhong only stared at the stone dumbbell and went forward to lift it. Instantly, he wanted to swear.
How did Lu shiyiniang, this girl, lift it just now? She had looked so effortless when doing so. Has he weakened so much that he could not even compare to a girl? Looking at the rest, the women, besides Lu LiuZhi, were of normal standards. Meanwhile, the men were practicing with heavy weights such as mallets that looked very heavy. However, their faces were relaxed as they raised their hand with the heavy mallets to practice moves.
Witnessing such a scene, Zhuang Zhong was dumbfounded.
A few of the ladies who saw Zhuang Zhong also stopped. They then laughed when they saw his expression.
First Aunt said with a smile, “It gave you a scare, didn’t it?”
Zhuang Zhong smiled bitterly. “I just realized how useless I am.”
Lu shiyiniang chuckled happily. “Our Lu family are all born with such natural power. If it were not for this, my father would have been unable to claim such credit on the battlefield today.”
Fifth Aunt sighed, “Your mother used to be a strong one, but you were separated from her when you were young and was unaware of it.”
At this moment, Zhuang Zhong recalled that YuanJue had also been quite strong. Whenever he carried two buckets of water, he would pant heavily, whereas YuanJue would be relaxed as if it was nothing. It turned out that strength could also be inherited.
What Zhuang Zhong was curious about was why the women had to follow the practice. After all, the Lu family was not a military family but a path that Lu Feng’s generation had no choice but to undertake. Seeming to sense his question, Fifth Aunt then explained it to him. It turned out that they had grown cautious after the disaster. As all the men in their family became soldiers, they would receive some money. However, if the women were not tough enough, they would be bullied by those who took advantage of their misfortune.
At that time, it was not only natural disasters that they had to deal with but also transgressions from other people – some might take advantage of the disaster to rob and carry out trafficking, etc. The son of one of Lu Feng’s good friends had been abducted in such a manner. As his friend died soon after he became a soldier, he only left behind one son. His whole family had been counting on that grandson, but in the end, they lost him. Blaming themselves, the two elders then hung themselves in guilt.
During that time, there were countless occurrences of such tragic events, and some places also had rumors of people resorting to cannibalism. In the end, due to the sufferings they underwent, the women could not forget the pain despite their present glory and wealth. More importantly, as they had once been wealthy before losing everything, they clearly understood that wealth was fleeting, and no one knew when they would encounter disaster. Compared to everything else that were external material things, having enough strength then became the priority, as they would be able to prevail in times of crisis. Moreover, by becoming a general household, they must also possess appropriate bearing and style.
Zhuang Zhong suddenly thought of something. “Does XiaoBao also possess this innate ability?”
Fifth Aunt replied proudly, “He may appear small, but he has the greatest power in the Lu family. Perhaps, it is also because of this great strength that he cannot grow taller. Compared to your uncle, who is strong but too cumbersome like a bear, he is more agile.”
When Lu Feng heard this, he rebutted loudly, “It seems that my lady does not need this lord anymore when she has such a son. Everything you said about your son is good, while mine is the opposite.”
Fifth Aunt rolled her eyes at him. “My son was thrown to the wolves by you and has not been found yet. I must be crazy to say good things about you.”
Lu Feng laughed. “There is no need for my lady to worry. With XiaoBao’s skills, he will definitely be able to escape. Besides, this lord is not a good-for-nothing.”
Zhuang Zhong was very worried. “How can we find him in such a massive capital, though?”
“It is I, Lu Feng, who lost my son. They will not dare to not expend all efforts in the search!”
Hearing this, Zhuang Zhong immediately understood. Although the Yamen runners had expended great efforts to search for the previous lost children, it had not been to the maximum degree. Now, with the son of a general missing, it would be different with all the officials and soldiers in the capital working together.
Even then, it was still very dangerous. If they provoked the other party beyond what they could endure, those abducted might be killed, and lives would be lost. Looking closely at the Lu family, it was not that they weren’t worried, but that they have experienced all kinds of hardships and were able to maintain their calm.
After breakfast, Lu Feng led the Lu family out. However, he did not allow Zhuang Zhong to follow and told him to wait for news at home. In the end, with Zhuang Zhong unable to sit still, Lu Feng eventually allowed Lu balang to go with him.
Zhuang Zhong and Lu balang arrived at the place where Lu XiaoBao went missing yesterday. Although the place was prospering during the day, it was no longer as crowded as yesterday night, and everything could be seen more clearly. Here, the streets were spacious, and there were four alleys on two sides of the main road, making it easy for someone to disappear.
Zhuang Zhong and Lu balang then headed to the River View Pavilion not far away and surveyed the situation from the top. It was a pity there were no binoculars, or they could have seen farther. Nonetheless, the square layout of the capital also meant that one did not have to worry about forks in the road.
Zhuang Zhong pointed out, “Yesterday, those people must have been running towards these four alleys.”
Lu balang gave an affirmative, “Yes, the one we chased down was the north alley.”
“Recount the situation at that time and in detail. Do not leave out anything.”
“At that time, it was crowded, especially around the area you and XiaoBao were at. As both of you are not tall, he and you got buried in the crowd momentarily. It was when the crowd dispersed that we saw four men leaving your side. Each of them had a sack, and we chased after them.”
Zhuang Zhong’s eyebrows knitted tightly as he rubbed the Buddha beads in his hands one by one. “Those people were covering up for the real abductors. Although XiaoBao is small, he would still be quite a big lump after being squeezed inside, making it very difficult for them to be inconspicuous. Was there really no other suspicious person at that time?”
Lu balang replied with certainty, “With so many people staring, there could not be any mistakes. Even though it was nighttime, the lights were bright, and the people in the Lu family had good vision. Even if there is only a little light, we can still see clearly. Besides, it is not like we were closely examining the pattern on people’s clothes so we definitely did not see wrongly.”
“If no one left, could they have remained at the original location?”
Lu balang felt that it was impossible and said, “Although XiaoBao is smaller than children his age, he is not that little. Besides, his roundish stature makes it impossible to hide him well.”
As Zhuang Zhong peered down and saw a woman passing by, something seemed to flash through his head.
Like a playback of yesterday’s scene, Zhuang Zhong closed his eyes and thought back to the people and things around him after they were broken up. Originally, Zhuang Zhong’s memory was good. So, despite his flustered state during yesterday’s incident, he forced himself to recall every detail around him, painting a vivid picture.
A woman appeared in Zhuang Zhong’s mind, and she was very suspicious! Quite tall and strongly built, she had been decked in a cage skirt with a long hemline that dragged along the ground. Her outer garment was also very thick and heavy, which was obviously inappropriate to wear during the scorching Mid-Autumn Festival. In DaYou, there were little restrictions on women, so thin upper garments and the show of skin above their chests was accepted during the summer. More importantly, the material of her skirt was very thick, making her appear very round.
She was obviously not fat, so why would she dress in such a bloated way? After all, like modern times, DaYou considered thin to be beautiful – the thinner, the better. In addition, with the Mid-Autumn Festival being a big event, women would usually dress up carefully when going out, not to make themselves into a zongzi3 “粽子” (zongzi) is a traditional Chinese rice dish made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves, or sometimes with reed or other large flat leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. In the Western world, they are also known as rice dumplings or sticky rice dumplings.. Thinking back, the woman was wearing a lot of layers, and looked really different from others.
Zhuang Zhong opened his eyes and hurriedly took out paper and a brush from his bag before sketching on the parchment hastily. Lu balang glanced at it curiously before suddenly showing a surprised expression as the drawing was almost lifelike.
“Who is this?”
“I just thought back to last night and recalled that this person seemed very suspicious. Considering her appearance was decent, it could be inferred that she was not poor, so why would she dress up like this? Moreover, yesterday was quite hot, and her thick clothes were obviously different from others.”
Indeed, below the building, the women walking by were all wearing light and elegant outfits to appear more graceful.
“Whether she is suspicious or not, let us find this person first!” Lu balang picked up the picture and ran away. Before Zhuang Zhong could even keep his brush, he was already gone.
When Lu XiaoBao woke up, he found himself locked in a pitch dark place where he could not even see his fingers in front of him. Apart from the dense air saturated with the smell of urine, there were also the sounds of sobbing.
Lu XiaoBao felt gloomy, as he did not expect himself to land into the trap this quickly. At that time, he had deliberately let go of Zhuang Zhong’s hand and was soon knocked unconscious by something, giving him no time to sprinkle the beans. Nonetheless, it could be considered a good thing too, as these beans could serve as a snack since he was currently hungry.
Tied up with rope, his mouth had also been stuffed with something. Fortunately, these people had assumed that a group of children could not do much and did not bind them too tightly. Lu XiaoBao took in a deep breath and pulled his hands apart on both sides, breaking the rope with a “pa” sound.
Lu XiaoBao pulled out the thing in his mouth, and spat hard a few times. His heart was full of contempt. Ever since two years ago, normal rope no longer had the capability to restrain him.
Lu XiaoBao rummaged through his body, and his eyes narrowed into thin lines. The object his cousin gave him was still here! Lu XiaoBao pricked his ears, and when he did not hear any movement outside, he said in a small voice, “Where am I? I want to go home.”
After saying such words, the sobbing got louder with “wuwuwu” and some sounds of movement.
Without hesitation, Lu XiaoBao then took out the thing that Zhuang Zhong had given him. When he pressed it, the whole room immediately lit up. There were about 20 to 30 children in the room, aged from two to seven, who were all tied up and gagged. Most of them had not woken up, and the little boy who was sobbing was not too far from him. With a face of surprise, the boy looked at the object in Lu XiaoBao’s hand. Not understanding why it had become so bright, he had forgotten to cry.
Lu XiaoBao walked towards him and said, “I will untie you, do not make any sound.”
The little boy, who was about five years old, nodded his head fiercely, and Lu XiaoBao took the cloth out of his mouth. He never thought that the little boy would cry even more, his tears falling endlessly. However, looking as if he was nursing a grievance, the little boy dared not make a sound. Pale and clean, he was also so beautiful that Lu XiaoBao almost thought that he was a little girl.
Lu XiaoBao could not stand this and said, “There is no need to cry. Since I am here, you will be able to escape. My father will definitely come to save me.”
The little boy sobbed and sniffled, “Really-really?”
Lu XiaoBao patted his chest. “Of course! Tall and strong, my father is powerful. He has even killed many generals who were bad guys.”
It was only then that the little boy managed to smile through his tears. However, his face soon collapsed again after a while. “I-I ran out secretly. I originally wanted to pray for blessings for my mother and did not expect that I would be caught by bad guys. I am useless. My father must dislike me even more.”
Lu XiaoBao was baffled. “You sneaking out is not right, but it is not like you wanted to be caught by bad people. So, how can your father hate you because of this?”
The little boy pouted. “My father said that as a boy with a feminine appearance, I will have a future like a woman.”
Lu XiaoBao became unhappy. “What is wrong with having a life like a woman? My mother and my aunts are women who are in no way inferior to men!”
The little boy covered his mouth and laughed. “They are indeed in no way inferior to men.”
Lu XiaoBao scratched his head in embarrassment. “My name is Lu XiaoBao, and my father, Lu Feng, is a general. What about you?”
“My name is Yu ZiAn, and I am the son of Yu Ming, the vice minister of the Court of State Ceremonial.”
Lu XiaoBao did not know what the Court of State Ceremonial did, but he knew that the ranking of a vice minister was not low. It was then no wonder that Yu ZiAn had rosy lips and pretty white teeth along with his affluent attire.
“I am eight years old this year. What about you?”
“I am also eight, born in March.”
Lu XiaoBao grew wide-eyed. “You are actually older than me. I was born in November, but why are you smaller than me? I had thought that you were, at most, five years old.”
Yu ZiAn was a little aggrieved, “Since young, my body has not been very good.”
“Then how did you run out from your home?” Lu XiaoBao was curious. He had tried countless times, but he failed every time.
“I begged a servant girl, and she was the one who brought me out.” After the statement, Yu ZiAn became even more worried. “Sister ChunMei must have been frightened to death. I hope she will not be punished because of me.”
Feeling even stranger after finding out that a servant girl could take their young master out of the household, Lu XiaoBao felt that their family must be disorganized, as such a thing was impossible for him.
With someone speaking to him, Yu ZiAn was not as afraid as before and was no longer trembling.
Lu XiaoBao asked, “How did you manage to wake up so early?” After all, the other children have not awakened, and he did not know what time it was now.
“Perhaps due to the medicine I took since I was a child, I cannot be kept unconscious for a long time.” Yu ZiAn stared curiously at the luminous object in Lu XiaoBao’s hand. “What is this? Why is it so bright? It seems to be much brighter than luminous pearls at night.”
Lu XiaoBao proudly showed off the object and handed it to Yu ZiAn magnanimously. “This is what my cousin lent to me temporarily. He said that this thing is the only one of its kind in the world, and it cannot be easily shown to others. He only took it out because he was worried about me.”
With a face of curiosity, Yu ZiAn pressed the switch on top and was so surprised that he did not close his mouth.
“This place should be the cellar of one of the commoners’ homes.” Using the flashlight to look around, Yu ZiAn finally reached this conclusion.
“How do you know?”
A sense of gloom flashed across Yu ZiAn’s eyes. “I was previously locked in one before.”
Lu XiaoBao stared at him with big eyes. “Ah? Why?”
To that, Yu ZiAn did not want to answer and only said, “We should still find ways to get out. It will be good if we can deliver a message.”
After an unknown period of time, there came a tinkling sound from above. Both of them quickly turned off the flashlight and laid in the corner, pretending to be asleep.
Meanwhile, Lu balang, with Zhuang Zhong’s drawing, had ordered some men to search for the person depicted on it. As Lu Feng’s son had been the one captured, the governor spared no effort on the task, and news soon came from the Yamen that they had found the woman’s house. Her husband was responsible for the night soil, and he would transport the collected excrement and urine out of the capital every day before dawn.
When Zhuang Zhong heard that, he became even more suspicious. “Will the guard at the gate check the night-soil bucket?”
Lu balang felt enlightened. “That’s right. Everyone will find it stinky, so even if they checked, it would not be thorough. In that case, if there was a secret component, it would not be found, making it easy to smuggle the children out!”
Lu balang then directly led a group of people into the woman’s house. The woman and her husband had a face of panic.
The woman stuttered out, “What are you all doing? Why are you breaking into my house in broad daylight?”
The woman’s clothing today was very different from yesterday, and it was much lighter.
The head constable coldly hummed. “Yesterday, a number of children went missing during the lantern festival, and we were ordered to search every household.”
Afraid to speak further, the couple stood aside in silence.
The group of people searched the interior and exterior of the house, but nothing was found. Zhuang Zhong frowned and thought to himself: were the abductors not this couple, or were the children hidden elsewhere?
Lu balang asked, “Does this house have a cellar?”
The woman quickly replied, “Yes, it is here.”
People were sent down to investigate, but they still did not find anything.
The man said,” Our family is upright. How can we do such wicked deeds?”
“It would be best if you all did not do it, as those responsible will be put to death,” Lu Balang said coldly while holding a stick and hitting it around.
The man hastily agreed with Lu balang’s words. Even though his home was being ransacked, he did not dare to make a complaint.
They had searched all over but found nothing, making Zhuang Zhong feel disappointed. He could not recall anyone else who was as suspicious as the woman last night, but at the moment, he could only try to draw out the rest of the people around him back then to see if they could provide some clues.
As the group of people was preparing to leave, a sudden “bang” sound came from the ground.
When the faces of the couple paled, Lu balang shouted, “Where did the sound come from?!”
The woman and the man were sweating, and they appeared to be conveying something with their eyes. Lu balang then coldly hummed and ordered people to smash open the place where the noise was coming from.
While this was being done, the couple found the situation becoming increasingly unfavorable and tried to escape. However, they were taken down.
“Speak! Where did you hide them?!”
Looking at the situation, they had no choice but to open up another cellar, and Lu XiaoBao’s big head popped out.
“Eighth Brother!” Lu XiaoBao cried out excitedly, “I knew you would be able to find me!”
Lu balang excitedly lifted up Lu XiaoBao. “Not bad. You are indeed part of our Lu family.”
Lu XiaoBao proudly puffed up his chest. “Of course, the cellar is so dense. Without my strength, you would not have heard anything.”
All the lost children were in the cellar. As it had been dug very deep, any sound from inside would not be heard after the door was shut. Besides, the door was also built thick with a layer of bricks on it. If it were not for Lu XiaoBao’s natural strength and his extremely sturdy head, the normal sound of children hitting with their hands would be very weak and difficult for people to hear.
As the drugs used to knock the children out were very heavy in dosage, many were still not awake. So, only two managed to wake up in advance – one who was particularly strong and one who was extremely weak.
Zhuang Zhong felt some lingering fear. “I am glad we came here because with XiaoBao being so noisy, these two might have done something.”
Lu XiaoBao smiled brightly. “I am not so stupid, and Eighth Brother’s knocks were a secret code. My father had long predicted that the place where the children were being hidden would be very secretive and not easy to find. So, we agreed on a sign in advance to let me know if our people were here so I could start making noise.”
In the end, by following the clues, they caught the couple and those involved, especially those outside the capital. As the group of abductors were being led down the street, there were people waiting for them. They were hit with rotten eggs, vegetables, and even stones endlessly. Even if they were skinned, everyone would not feel that it was going too far at all!
With the news that the children were found, the respective parents had long been waiting at the Yamen door. As one looked upon the scene of each child being brought away by their parents, even the most strong-willed would also feel soft. Despite the child in their arms, many even knelt and kowtowed a few times to express their excitement and gratitude too.
However, not all children had such parents. As the other children around them left one by one, no one from Yu ZiAn’s family came, and his originally bright face gradually dimmed.
It was only when Zhuang Zhong asked that he was told that Yu ZiAn was the son of the vice minister of the Court of State Ceremonial. This made Zhuang Zhong even more confused as to why no one had come for him.
All this while, Lu XiaoBao had been with Yu ZiAn until he was the only one left. Lu XiaoBao then went forward and pulled his hand. “I will send you back.”
Yu ZiAn lowered and shook his head.
Yu ZiAn looked up excitedly and kept glancing around. “Uncle Wang, where is my father?”
A trace of darkness flashed in Uncle Wang Bo’s eyes. “As the lord is occupied with his work, he could not come here personally and entrusted this servant to come and pick up the young master. Besides, when Madam found out that you were missing, her old illness relapsed, and she was bedridden, so she could not come over in person either.”
Hearing that, the shift in Yu ZiAn’s expression was like the instant withering of fully bloomed flowers. However, he was not angry and only obediently followed Uncle Wang away. “XiaoBao, thank you for accompanying me for so long.”
“Between us, who is accompanying who?” Lu XiaoBao patted the other person’s shoulder and continued, “You must come find me to play in the future, and I will also go find you. We can be companions in adversity.”
It was only then that Yu ZiAn’s initially gloomy face exuded a light smile. His exquisite and beautiful appearance grew lively as his eyes shined with a glow.
- 1“偷鸡不成蚀把米” was translated as “went for wool and came home shorn” which approximately means to “seek to better themselves or make themselves rich, but end by losing what they already have”. It might not be a direct translation but the meaning was similar so I decided to translate it as so.
- 2In “鸿胪寺少卿”, the “鸿胪寺” (honglu si) represents the “Court of State Ceremonial” while “少卿” is the denotation of position, more specifically the vice minister position.
- 3“粽子” (zongzi) is a traditional Chinese rice dish made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves, or sometimes with reed or other large flat leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. In the Western world, they are also known as rice dumplings or sticky rice dumplings.