As Wu Ruo and Wu Qianqing arrived at the main hall, they could hear the sounds of chatter and laughter from inside the house. When they walked into the main hall, suddenly, the laughter stopped, the atmosphere was penetrated with a sliver of strangeness. However, it very quickly recovered to the way it was before as if the laughter never broke off at all.
“Sandi1Wu Qianjing is referring to Wu Qianqing as 三弟 (san di) which is “third little brother”. has arrived.” Wu Qianjing said, smiling happily: “Oh, Xiao-Ruo, how come you’re here as well?”
After Wu Ruo greeted his grandfather and uncles who were seated there, he smiled good-naturedly: “I came to greet Great-Grandfather.”2When Wu Ruo is ‘greeting’ his grandfather and uncles, the word here is 问好 (wen hao). He is most likely addressing them all by title and saying ‘hello’ to them. When Wu Ruo says he is here to ‘greet’ Great-Grandfather, the word is 请安 (qing an) which is closer to formally bowing to and paying respects to someone.
He looked towards his grandfather, Wu Xuanran: “I originally intended to go look for Grandfather after seeing Great-Grandfather, but I didn’t think that Grandfather would also be here.”
Wu Xuanran said indifferently: “It’s the thought that counts.”
Wu Qianqing saw that his own father treated his own son coldly, and the space between his eyebrows creased lightly: “I was still thinking that Grandfather had only called me to come over.”
Wu Qianbin smiled and said: “Before I arrived, I also thought that Grandfather had only called me. When I arrived, then I found out that Grandfather had also called Dad and dage and the rest over as well. Since it’s almost the New Year now, I think Grandfather asked us all over because he wants to get a better understanding of the Southern main estate’s situation in this past year. I heard from the servants here that the people from the other main estates have already come over here to report about the condition of their main estates.”
Wu Qianqing nodded his head.
Wu Qianbin and the other brothers looked at each other and didn’t speak up again.
Not long after, Wu Bofang arrived at the main hall, and sat down and said: “I remember that your Southern main estate is responsible for the public security of Gaoling City this year, yes?”
Wu Xuanran replied: “That’s right.”
Wo Bofang’s expression darkened: “Then what’s with the matter about someone getting beaten to ruins at Xishan Theatre a few days ago? Have you found the culprit?”
When he heard this, Wu Ruo’s eye twitched, and he immediately thought of how it was Hei Xuanyi who had done it.
Wu Xuanran and the five brothers’ expressions instantly became incomparably ugly.
Wu Xuanran said: “I heard from the manager of Xishan Theatre and the customers who were there that they were beaten up by Gui and Guai. Our people went to investigate, but didn’t find any traces of any Gui or Guai.”
“You still have the cheek to say.” Wu Bofang slammed the table angrily: “There are Gui and Guai that infiltrated into the city, yet not a single one of you detected it. In the future, how will the citizens of Gaoling City still trust our Wu family to be capable of protecting them? Who would pay our Wu family any money to protect their safety? This money is an extremely large source of income for the Wu family.”
Wu Xuanran and the brothers didn’t dare to speak up.
Wu Bofang sighed deeply: “I’ll give all of you three months to find the bunch of trouble-making Gui and Guai. And, the cost of repairing Xishan Theatre will be borne by your Southern main estate.”
No one dared to object.
Wu Bofang softened his tone: “Now let’s talk about the situation at your Southern main estate this past year.”
Wu Qianjing gave the Southern main estate’s account books, which his attendant had sent over previously, to Wu Bofang for his perusal and gave a report on the past year’s situation. When he was done speaking, he added: “Grandfather, after the New Year, the Southern main estate will have a few children who will be assessed and sent for internships. However, the children lack materials to make weapons and they won’t be able to find these things in such a short period of time.
“So, I wanted to get the children to borrow some materials from people within the Wu family who currently don’t need materials to make weapons. When they successfully come back from their internships, they will find similar materials to return to those people. Do you think this is okay?”
As expected, they were eyeing the materials from his gifts. Wu Ruo lowered his gaze to hide the coldness in his eyes. These words were very well said, saying that they were just borrowing the materials, but, would they really return anything? If they couldn’t find any similar materials, would they just not return anything?
Was it because they were so certain that his dad would be too embarrassed to ask them to return the materials, that’s why they dared to say such shameless things?
Wu Bofang’s gaze flashed, and he said with a smile: “Previously, those from the other main estates also suggested this idea. If everyone agrees with this, I naturally won’t have any objections. However, I must make one thing clear. If the person who was borrowed from goes looking for the person who borrowed from them, everyone must not go back on their word. There must not be any quarrels that you’re even willing to offend your family members3The original text is 不能闹得最后连家人都得做. I’m assuming this is a typo on the author’s part, as 得罪 (de zui) is literally one typo away from 得做 (de zuo) both in pinyin and in Chinese character. Dezui means “to offend” someone, and dezuo doesn’t mean anything at all, which is why I’m pretty sure it’s a typo. for. Understood?”
“We understand.” Wu Qianjing guaranteed: “Grandfather, I guarantee to you, this sort of thing absolutely will not happen.”
Wu Bofang asked the rest: “Then all of you agree with his idea?”
Wu Xuanran, Wu Qiantong, Wu Qianbin, and Wu Qianli nodded their heads.
Wu Bofang looked towards Wu Qianqing who didn’t nod his head nor did he verbally agree: “Qianqing, do you disagree with his idea?”
Wu Qianqing lightly rubbed the space between his eyebrows. Yet as he was thinking about how to respond, Wu Bofang asked Wu Ruo: “Xiao-Ruo, what do you think about your dabo‘s idea?”
- 1Wu Qianjing is referring to Wu Qianqing as 三弟 (san di) which is “third little brother”.
- 2When Wu Ruo is ‘greeting’ his grandfather and uncles, the word here is 问好 (wen hao). He is most likely addressing them all by title and saying ‘hello’ to them. When Wu Ruo says he is here to ‘greet’ Great-Grandfather, the word is 请安 (qing an) which is closer to formally bowing to and paying respects to someone.
- 3The original text is 不能闹得最后连家人都得做. I’m assuming this is a typo on the author’s part, as 得罪 (de zui) is literally one typo away from 得做 (de zuo) both in pinyin and in Chinese character. Dezui means “to offend” someone, and dezuo doesn’t mean anything at all, which is why I’m pretty sure it’s a typo.