General Lu, Lu Feng—was the original wife, Lu LiuZhi’s elder brother. He, who was born with might, was also brave and adept at fighting. Relying on his strength and courage, he fought his way out and climbed up step by step, becoming one of the most famous generals in DaYou. Although his position was inferior to Marquis WenYuan, he was a very troublesome figure to the marquis.
Lu Feng had always held a grudge towards the marquis’ failure to fulfill his responsibility as a husband and let his sister die with regret. As long as he was in the capital, he would find trouble for him. In DaYou, there was a clear distinction between literary arts and physical arts. There were very few who were like Marquis WenYuan, abandoning scholarly pursuits to pursue martial arts, and they tend to be unaccepted by either side. The military side resented the marquis’ “betrayal” while the civil servants disdained to associate themselves with someone who was “halfway”, making his standing very awkward.
If Marquis WenYuan had not been favored by the officials, he would not have reached his present position. Even so, he still had to handle his own predicament alone. This, coupled with Lu Feng, a thorn in his side, had made it difficult for the marquis to act in court. Lu Feng was a total brute with no care towards etiquette rules and did whatever he wanted. Even when punished, he only put on a pretense of complying and did not change. It was when Lu Feng was sent to the southeast garrison that Marquis WenYuan was finally able to catch a breather.
Wei YuHua was suddenly enlightened. To Marquis WenYuan, whether Zhuang Zhong was his biological son or not was not important. As long as Lu Feng would not trouble him on the child’s account, Zhuang Zhong could be his adopted son. It was not a big deal.
Wei Yuhua frowned. “Doesn’t it mean that my previous scheme was in vain?”
Wetnurse Fang laughed and said, “As someone closely involved, it seems like Madam cannot view it as clearly as outsiders. This is actually the most beneficial to Madam.”
Wetnurse Fang understood that Wei YuHua was not a fool, and such a lack of insight was probably due to her being too nervous. After all, what was vexing was not her, but the one with children. According to DaYou’s laws, even if the son was adopted, he still had the right to inheritance and was as equally qualified as a biological son when there was a split of assets. Therefore, whether he is adopted or biological was not important –as long as he enters the family, they can give Yin YueHan a headache.
“How should I treat this child? With such an ambiguous treatment from the marquis, it is really unpredictable.”
“As the lady of the house, Madam should just be impartial and refrain from being too enthusiastic or cold. Besides, there is nothing that could not be discussed between a husband and wife. The marquis has always respected you, and Yin-shi has never been able to climb over you despite her arrogance. Essentially, you are still the one who controls this courtyard.”
Wei YuHua was a little aggrieved. “But the marquis was treating me more and more indifferently. Ever since he learned that I had found out the whereabouts of this child, he had looked at me with a gaze that chilled me to the bottom of my heart.”
“It is natural for the marquis to be angry temporarily. Madam, please do not blame this old woman for saying too much. Men like women who are tactful and aware. Madam, sometimes, you are too firm and unwilling to let loose, which makes it difficult for the marquis to treat you tenderly and sweetly.”
Wei YuHua’s face immediately turned bitter. Since childhood, she was taught to model after zongfu1“宗妇” (zongfu) refers to the legal wife of a man (this man has to be a legitimate son in his family)., while the behaviors that men “liked” were considered frivolous. Every time she talked to the marquis, she could not help but speak in a proper tone. Occasionally, she would be coquettish, but even then, she would feel uncomfortable. She really could not be like Yin YueHan – it was really improper.
Seeing this, Wetnurse Fang could only sigh. Women always had it hard. No matter what they did, one can always find fault with it. If Wei YuHua had a son, she would not have disdained those gorgeous concubines’ methods of flattery. She would have only needed to be a proper Madam Zhuang and assist one’s husband while educating the children2 “相夫教子” literally translate to assist one’s husband and educate the children. This was usually expected of a virtuous woman/wife.. Her position would be stable and there would be no need to fight with those concubines. Contrary to such expectations, Wei YuHua lacked the most crucial part. If she did not manage to win the favor of her husband, she would soon be submerged under this big household.
“Is the marquis not yet back?” Yin YueHan’s hair was loose, and she wore a light green satin undergarment adorned with butterflies and flower patterns. Covered in a thin full-sleeve gauze robe, her graceful figure appeared obscure. Seemingly casual, but also very enticing. However, the person she had insisted on waiting for had not appeared, and such elaborate dressing ended up being in vain.
With ShaoYao about to speak and yet hesitating, Yin YueHan impatiently reproached her, “Speak your mind!”
“He had returned since a stick of incense ago and is staying over at ChanMing Courtyard…”
The tea set on the table was swept down to the ground and it smashed into pieces. Yin YueHan’s ample chest rose and fell while she clenched her fists until her fingernails were about to break. She initially thought that the marquis would come to her courtyard to pacify her tonight. After all, no woman would feel good with the appearance of a legitimate eldest son that would contend with her children. However, unexpectedly, Marquis WenYuan had remained indifferent to her “plight” and went to ChanMing Courtyard!
ChanMing Courtyard belonged to Concubine Zhou, whose existence was peculiar in the household. Ever since she entered the household, the number of times she entered and left ChanMing Courtyard could be counted on one hand. The marquis had also prohibited other people from entering, including Madam Hou. Over there, it seemed like a separate small world where insiders do not leave and outsiders do not enter. Even meals and daily necessities were brought in by the courtyard servants. To Yin YueHan, Concubine Zhou was a side figure who she had never seen with her own eyes.
“What is his intention?! He had previously fawned over me, but now why is he treating me like this? Is he…” Yin YueHan suddenly thought of something and got flustered.
Wetnurse Li gave a meaningful glance and all the servants in the room left. She patted Yin YueHan on the back of her hand. “There is no need to worry. The marquis must be very conflicted today, so he did not want to visit you.”
Yin YueHan clenched her teeth. “This is all Wei YuHua’s fault. If it wasn’t for her bringing back such a disaster, how would I be vexed?”
“Do not be impatient. If the marquis really values the child, why would he delay his official acceptance into the family register? He must have wanted to make some investigation into it. According to the law, even if he is a biological son, he would not be qualified to receive any inheritance if he is not registered. There is no need to irritate the marquis over such resentful thoughts, as this issue has not been settled. As a little monk from the countryside, how much insight and knowledge can he have? Besides, you are also aware of the type of people that the marquis detests the most.”
Yin YueHan frowned. “However, looking at the boy today, he does not seem slow-witted. If only at the beginning we had…” She sighed. “Well, it is useless to mention anything that has already passed.”
Wetnurse Li squinted. “The key point is to let the marquis think that the child is dull. Such an insignificant chess piece does not require such efforts. From the start to the end, your only enemy is Madam Hou.”
Yin YueHan’s eyes darkened, and her faltering heart finally latched onto a primary goal.
Such currents in the courtyards did not disturb Zhuang Zhong’s entry into the household. Wei YuHua was thoughtful, as the courtyard that he was led to was tidied up orderly, and clothing was already prepared. She had also assigned good servants. Despite their dull expressions and their dislike towards talking, they were clear-cut and efficient in their roles.
Zhuang Zhong took a bath comfortably and when he came out, the food was already laid on the table. The meal was very rich – with four dishes, one soup, and a dessert. They included roasted lamb, stir-fried rabbit meat, chicken with mushroom and chestnuts, sweet and sour fish, old duck soup with burdock root, and tremella lotus seed soup3Chinese names of the food were 柳蒸羊、爆炒兔肉、香菇栗子鸡、糖醋鱼、山药老鸭汤 and 银耳莲子羹..
Zhuang Zhong’s eyes flashed. The meaning of Marquis WenYuan’s words just now was unclear, and he seemed to not believe him. However, he did recognize him and Zhuang Zhong feared there were ulterior motives behind such a move. With another branch of thoughts to be resolved, it was inevitable that he would be anxious. The marquis’ household seemed to be truly complicated, and anything could become an issue.
The servant girl named Cui’er said, “The Madam had ordered me to pass you a message. As a monk, you must not have eaten such dishes, but with your return to a secular life, you should try it out.”
Afraid that Zhuang Zhong would refuse to break the religious precept, Cui’er continued saying, “Young Master does not have to worry. Isn’t there a saying that wine and meat may pass through the intestines, but Buddha still remains in the heart4 The saying is “酒肉穿肠过，佛祖心中留” and it originates from 济公 (Ji Gong), a monk that was known for his wild and eccentric behavior including not following Buddhist monastic rules of not consuming alcohol and meat.? As long as you have Buddha in your heart, you do not have to rigidly adhere to such rules. Please do not disregard Madam’s good intentions, as she purposely does so in order for you to adapt quicker.”
The fine delicacies on the table were very attractive and had already enticed Zhuang Zhong. Having come to this point, pretending to disagree would just be making it hard for himself. He should drink today’s wine5 “今朝有酒今朝醉” is the saying used here. It is used to describe the act of muddling through life with the focus on the pleasure/comforts in front of a person. and plan for the future later. Coming to such a conclusion, Zhuang Zhong proceeded to enjoy the delicious food on the table. His first bite could not stop Zhuang Zhong from squinting his eyes. It seemed like meat was the best. Since arriving to this world, he had been eating food that was too dull. It was a pity that DaYou did not have hot pepper. Otherwise, he would have been happier.
After dinner, Cui’er handed over a toothbrush and the best-quality tooth powder to gargle. The toothbrush was still a toothbrush, and its shape was very similar to that of a modern toothbrush. With its handle made of ivory, one end was implanted with horsehair, and the top was dipped in tooth powder. It was the first time for Zhuang Zhong to use such a high-grade toothbrush, so he could not help but size it up.
Cui’er thought that he did not know how to use it and wanted to teach him, but was rejected by Zhuang Zhong. He has been using this thing for so many years, so his posture was perfect, there was no need for others to teach him. However, to use ivory for the handle was too extravagant, and holding it could really make one’s hand tremble.
“Cui’er, where is the box I brought along before?”
With Cui’er quickly helping Zhuang Zhong find it, his heart immediately settled down and he sent the others away.
The wooden box’s workmanship was very rough, and one could see that it was not something valuable at first sight. However, when Zhuang Zhong opened it, there seemed to be another universe. If someone saw this, they would no doubt be surprised, as they have never come across such a material. The box was silvery-white, and its appearance was slightly different from that of ordinary cases, especially the lock on it.
This box was a forensic investigation case brought by Zhuang Zhong from his former world. It was the only remaining connection between him and that world. He was fully aware that it was not appropriate for such a thing to appear in this world, but he was unwilling to give it up. In order to cover this up, he had made an outer wooden box with YuanJue’s help.
Opening the box, the first thing one would see was the two stainless steel trays – one with several scissors and the other with spoons, hammers, and so on. Although it has fallen into disuse in this world, these were often used by Zhuang Zhong in the past, and one could see how it made him feel at ease.
Even when YuanJue had taken a fancy to a small knife, he was not willing to give it to him. Firstly, these tools were of great significance to him. Secondly, YuanJue wanted to use the knife to cut food. Although these knives had been disinfected, they had once been used to cut open countless corpses, which was not suitable to give others.
Thinking of YuanJue then made Zhuang Zhong felt a pain in his chest. It was only after stroking the Buddha beads on his wrist that brought him relief.
Zhuang Zhong came to this world through transmigration. He was unsure whether it was the compression from the time tunnel that had caused his whole person to be smaller, as upon arriving, he was only around twelve or thirteen years old. At that time, he had not yet developed and was smaller than his peers. The place he had transmigrated to was the wilderness, which was very dangerous and full of beasts.
Besides, Zhuang Zhong was also injured in the transmigration process; with his leg broken, he could only lie on the ground and could not walk at all. If YuanJue had not passed by and saved him, he would have been eaten by wolves. At that moment during YuanJue’s appearance, Zhuang Zhong felt that his bald head seemed to give off a glow, letting people feel warm and safe.
YuanJue then proceeded to bring Zhuang Zhong back to the remote and dilapidated temple. There were only two people in the temple, the abbot and YuanJue. There was also not much burning of joss sticks and donations, so life in the temple had not been easy, but it was a safe shelter for Zhuang Zhong.
The abbot was a kind-hearted old monk. He did not ask where he came from and why he dressed so strangely, naturally taking him in. Zhuang Zhong eventually shaved his head and became a monk, but it was not for religious belief and more for convenience. As someone who knew nothing about this world, he had wanted to establish a safe identity before attempting to do so. In this case, monks were very suitable, as they did not need to pay taxes or perform unpaid labor. They were also free to move about and enjoy greater convenience when washing their heads.
-Hi, I hope you are enjoying the chapters so far! For those who are wondering, I have pre-read the next few chapters and it seems like there will be a few chapters before the next case so sit tight and be patient. XD
- 1“宗妇” (zongfu) refers to the legal wife of a man (this man has to be a legitimate son in his family).
- 2“相夫教子” literally translate to assist one’s husband and educate the children. This was usually expected of a virtuous woman/wife.
- 3Chinese names of the food were 柳蒸羊、爆炒兔肉、香菇栗子鸡、糖醋鱼、山药老鸭汤 and 银耳莲子羹.
- 4The saying is “酒肉穿肠过，佛祖心中留” and it originates from 济公 (Ji Gong), a monk that was known for his wild and eccentric behavior including not following Buddhist monastic rules of not consuming alcohol and meat.
- 5“今朝有酒今朝醉” is the saying used here. It is used to describe the act of muddling through life with the focus on the pleasure/comforts in front of a person.