Disputes on the Internet did not stop there. At nine o’clock in the morning, the official WeChat account of the Wenhua Academy of Fine Arts also issued a statement saying that the school had convened an urgent meeting and was investigating the Feng Yadong issue. The lawyer appointed by Lin Qinhe to help Tao Xi also posted a letter to Feng Yadong on Weibo, stating that he would help the client to sue.
The matter developed in a direction that was initially unexpected and expanded. Perhaps due to the pressure of the school and the lawsuit, at ten o’clock in the morning, Feng Yadong’s Weibo trumpet, who was overwhelmed by netizens, finally sent a Weibo response.
He admitted in the Weibo post that the painting was not his own original, but there was someone else who gave him the painting and asked him to submit it for the competition. He was deceived by others and the person who anonymously submitted the article to smear the plagiarism was not him. Throughout Weibo, he tried to clean himself up, and finally @ a Weibo account, suggesting that this was the person behind the scenes.
Netizens clicked on this Weibo account and found that it was a verified account, with a profile of the vice president of the Wenhua City Qinghua Painting Association.
“Xi ge, do you know this person named Guan Fanyun?”
Bi Chengfei had endured the desire to surf the Internet all morning, and when he finally had time to gossip during the lunch break, he saw that some netizens had already picked up this Weibo full of selfies belonging to a woman named Guan Fanyun.
Tao Xi also swiped his phone, but did not have the leisure to gossip. Instead, he anxiously waited for Lin Qinhe’s reply. The national mathematics competition exam took place in the morning. At this time, it should have just ended. He looked at the WeChat dialog box and said absently: “I know, I am also in this club.”
Bi Chengfei sketched out a story in his mind, in which a vice president was jealous of a gifted member and thus slandered and framed him. He continued scrolling Weibo, and after a while, he opened his mouth suddenly:
“I saw someone pick it up. Guan Fanyun is the girlfriend of the chairman of Mingwei Technology!”
Guan Fanyun’s Weibo was full of self-portraits and PDAs. Netizens who were eager to eat melons picked out her boyfriends. Many people speculated that Guan Fanyun was not a girlfriend but a mistress based on her age.
“Mingwei Technology?” Tao Xi didn’t react.
“You don’t know, Mingwei Technology is a very large medical company, and the chairman is…” Bi Chengfei covered his mouth and leaned towards Tao Xi in a low voice, “The next door Class 2 Yang Duole’s father.”
Tao Xi said “Oh” without any response. He continued to look at Lin Qinhe’s WeChat box. The interface suddenly jumped into an incoming call reminder. He jolted, got up from his seat with his mobile phone and rushed to the hallway outside the classroom.
“Have you finished the exam?”
It seemed to be a little noisy over Lin Qinhe’s side, he let out an “en” without saying how well he did in the test. Instead, he said to him: “I will go back to Wenhua City in the afternoon. I will pick you up from school in the evening.”
Tao Xi was stunned and asked, “Don’t you have an interview in Beijing this afternoon?”
Lin Qinhe’s schedule for Beijing was very full this time. In addition to the competition in the morning, there would be two interviews with American professors in the afternoon. The plan was to return tomorrow.
“I moved the interview to a later date.”
Tao Xi felt that something was wrong, Lin Qinhe was not someone who casually disrupted plans like this. He thought about it and said, “Is there anything wrong with you coming back in a hurry? If it’s about me, you really don’t have to worry about it, I’ve already taken care of it.”
Lin Qinhe seemed to have walked to a quieter place, his voice became clearer and deeper: “Tao Xi, I want to take you to see your grandpa and grandma tomorrow morning.”
Tao Xi took a deep breath. His fingers unconsciously gripped the phone and he asked softly: “Why? Didn’t we say we will go on Saturday?”
When he thought of that scene, he still couldn’t help feeling nervous.
Lin Qinhe was silent for a while and only said, “I don’t want anything else to happen.”
Tao Xi heard a bit of self-blame in Lin Qinhe’s voice. He bit his lower lip. After hesitating for a while, he replied, “Okay, I’ll listen to you.”
After hanging up the phone, he opened Weibo and searched Guan Fanyun’s Weibo account to find that the Weibo content had been cleared and the ID became a string of garbled codes.
Feng Yadong’s revelation about Guan Fanyun was within his expectation, but he was more curious about what Guan Fanyun would do.
Guan Fanyun must have slandered him for plagiarism for the purpose of pleasing Yang Duole. Now that the situation had developed to this point, there was no more room to turn back. Would she cover up Yang Zhengming’s “son” and block all this for him?
And Xu Ziqi, who had always been uncomfortable with him and had been trying hard to get in line with Yang Duole, would he deny stealing his painting and hide it for Yang Duole when confronted by the school leaders?
Tao Xi put the phone back into her pocket. After returning to the classroom, he walked to the corridor again. Grabbing a boy who was about to enter Class 2, he handed him a folded note and said, “Can you give it to Xu Ziqi in your class for me?”
The boy agreed and quickly went into the classroom.
Tao Xi leaned on the railing of the corridor, lowered his head and scrolled Weibo. Not long after, Xu Ziqi walked out, glanced at him stiffly, and then looked around. Seeing no one passing by, he said with a sullen expression: “What do you mean?”
Tao Xi’s gaze fell on Xu Ziqi’s tightly clenched fingers. Without saying anything, he turned and walked into an empty classroom at the end of the corridor. Xu Ziqi hesitated behind him for a while and followed slowly.
The empty classroom had few tables and chairs, and a broken chair with a broken leg was at the edge of the wall. Tao Xi looked at the chair, and after Xu Ziqi closed the door nervously, he said in a low tone.
“Xu Ziqi, I remember I told you a long time ago not to touch my things casually.”
Xu Ziqi saw the chair and obviously remembered something. He subconsciously took two steps back and stared at him angrily, “Who touched your things? You do not just slander people!”
Tao Xi took a step closer, staring at Xu Ziqi’s dodging eyes and said, “You may not know that I have a bad habit. As long as it is what I put, how it is placed and where it is, I can remember it clearly.”
Xu Ziqi stood there, his lips pressed tightly. After a moment of silence, he turned his face sideways and said, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Then I will help you remember.” Tao Xi put his hand in his pocket and held the phone. Tilting his head as if he was thinking, he continued, “On December 17, Pan Yan took a day off to go back, I went back to my dorm room late, and you were the only one in the dorm room, right?”
Xu Ziqi’s face froze for a moment, this was the date written in the note. his heart was panicking like a drum roll, but he tried his best to maintain his composure: “What does this mean? Pan Yan is still often alone in the dormitory?”
Tao Xi smiled softly and said calmly, “Didn’t you notice? Every time I finish painting, I cover the easel with a white cloth, but that day when I went back, I found that the cloth had been moved. Pan Yan was not there, so who do you think moved it?”
Xu Ziqi lowered his gaze suddenly, the emotions in his eyes were fierce, and after a while he calmed down again, snickering, “Can this be considered evidence?”
Tao Xi didn’t answer the conversation anymore, but suddenly asked, “You haven’t been able to contact Yang Duole, right?”
Xu Ziqi looked gloomy and didn’t say a word. Since things were reversed last night, he panicked and sent a WeChat message to Yang Duole and even made a phone call, but there was no response. Today, Yang Duole didn’t come to school directly, and he will go to the Student Affairs Office later to accept the inquiry from Director Feng.
Tao Xi came closer, and said in a slow tone: “Xu Ziqi, I know that Yang Duole asked you to do this. In addition to you, there is also his father’s girlfriend. Now she has been exposed by Feng Yadong. Don’t you think she will give you up for Yang Duole?”
Xu Ziqi’s fist on the leg side suddenly clenched, and his expression remained silent.
“This matter has become a big deal, the school is also investigating. Do you think it can still be hidden?” Tao Xi’s gaze fell on Xu Ziqi’s pale face, his voice was cold, “Finally finding out that it’s you who provided them with my paintings, what do you think the school will do? Is it a disciplinary action, or a withdrawal from school?”
Xu Ziqi’s eyes trembled violently, he swallowed his throat and quickly retorted: “I didn’t know they would do that with your paintings!”
Tao Xi squeezed the phone with his hand in his pocket, and asked with distrust: “You really don’t know?”
Xu Ziqi turned red and argued quickly, “I just mentioned to Yang Duole that you were going to participate in the CAC. He said he wanted to see how your paintings were, and asked me to take a picture to show him, so I agreed, I really didn’t know he would do that.”
Tao Xi laughed coldly in his heart, knowing that Xu Ziqi was clearing himself. He said nothing more and turned to leave, but Xu Ziqi caught up and grabbed his arm, saying in a pleading tone, “Tao Xi, I really can’t leave Wenhua No.1 High School, my parents would go crazy if they knew!”
Tao Xi stopped in his tracks, broke away Xu Ziqi’s hand and looked at him coldly, saying, “When you plan to slander me, why don’t you think about the fact that I can’t leave Wenhua No.1 High School either?”
Xu Ziqi opened his pale lips but did not say anything.
In the afternoon, Tao Xi followed the others to class as usual, until after five o’clock, just after an English class, Zhou Qiang came in through the back door and asked him to go out.
Tao Xi followed Zhou Qiang outside the classroom, Zhou Qiang led him in the direction of the office building while saying: “Director Peng of the Political Education Department looked for Xu Ziqi at noon, his words were not much different from the recording you gave me, then Director Peng went to Yang Duole, but Yang Duole was not at school and took a leave of absence last night.”
Tao Xi smiled in his heart. At this time, would Yang Duole only hide in cowardice?
Zhou Qiang didn’t expect that this matter would involve Yang Duole from Class 2 and continued with a headache: “Director Peng had to contact Yang Duole’s parents. Now they are here and they are in the meeting room…”
Before he finished speaking, he found Tao Xi suddenly stopped in his tracks, tightly frowned, the bottom of his eyes revealed a nervous and anxious look.
Thinking that Tao Xi was afraid of facing his parents, Zhou Qiang calmed him down: “Don’t be nervous, Yang Duole made a mistake in this matter. His parents must have come to talk to you properly and apologize to you. They will not make things difficult for you.”
Tao Xi took a deep breath and nodded slowly.
When Yang Zhengming rushed to Wenhua No. 1 High School in the afternoon, Luo Zhengyin and the two elders of the Fang family hadn’t arrived yet. Director Peng welcomed and took him into a conference room. He couldn’t hold back lighting a cigarette. His face, which was always gentle and warm, had a layer of heavy frost.
Guan Fanyun called him at noon today, and knowing that she had been exposed, she told him about the incident——Not knowing what kind of deep hatred he had with the student named Tao Xi, gave her the photo of the painting Tao Xi had submitted to CAC. He asked her to copy the painting, and found a college student with little background, and hired him to submit the copy of the painting to the Golden Cup competition in his own name.
The purpose of this was obvious. Not knowing what was wrong with his son, he wanted to ruin a classmate’s competition through slander and plagiarism. More deeply, he wanted to ruin the student’s future in artistic creation
“Zhengming, I have no grudge against that Tao Xi. It’s also because of your son that I did this, you can’t just ignore it! Now others are going to sue, I can’t take this all down for your son, can you think of something?”
At that time, Yang Zhengming listened to the forehead veins jumping and forced himself to calm down before he interrupted Guan Fanyun’s noisy crying, telling her to clear all the content of the social media platform first, and not to post any response on it.
He was incredibly angry and furious at Yang Duole’s behavior, wanting to drag the kid back and beat him up immediately, and he didn’t expect Guan Fanyun to let Yang Duole do what he wanted!
In the end, Yang Zhengming managed to calm down and went to the internet to quickly understand the situation, knowing that the matter had already gone too far to be solved by suppressing Feng Yadong.
In any case, he planned to go to the school to ask Yang Duole to ask clearly, but soon he received a phone call from Yang Duole’s head teacher. He told him about Yang Duole in a gentle tone and asked him to take Yang Duole to the school. Only then did he know that Yang Duole didn’t go to school at all, so he had to call Luo Zhengyin, who had barely contacted him. Luo Zhengyin said that Yang Duole was in a bad mood and went to a friend’s house.
Yang Zhengming could not hold back his anger. He had always been dissatisfied with the two elders of the Fang family and Luo Zhengyin for pampering Yang Duole too much. Because of his willfulness, he made a big mistake today, so he couldn’t help but tell Luo Zhengyin about the good things Yang Duole had done. Unexpectedly, Luo Zhengyin happened to be visiting the two old people at Fang’s house. The two elders knew about this. The three were shocked and anxious, and they didn’t believe that Yang Duole did it.
The door of the conference room was pushed open. Yang Zhengming saw Luo Zhengyin helping the two old men, Fang Zuqing and Ye Yurong, come in, but did not see Yang Duole and asked in a deep voice: “Where is Yang Duole? Why don’t you bring him here?”
Luo Zhengyin said with a tired expression, “I drove to Lele’s friend’s house to pick him up and asked him about it, but Lele didn’t admit it and didn’t want to come to school with me, so I didn’t bring him here.”
At that time, she was afraid of hurting Yang Duole, so she asked carefully and euphemistically, but Yang Duole reacted fiercely, crying and denying it. She was so distressed that she didn’t dare to ask any more, and then persuaded Yang Duole to go to school to explain, but Yang Duole never agreed, and refused to leave his friend’s house. She had to give up and picked up the two old people who insisted on going to school.
Yang Zhengming only felt that these two people were ridiculous. When he was just about to say something, heard Fang Zuqing squeezed the crutches heavily, his already serious face was now green, and he sternly questioned him: “Did your lover do a good thing?! How many times have I told you, don’t let her provoke Lele!”
Ye Yurong, his wife on the side, was also anxious and angry, but worried about the old man’s body, so she softly persuaded: “Sit down first and ask the school teacher if there is any misunderstanding. I believe Lele is a good boy and would never do such a thing.”
Luo Zhengyin helped Fang Zuqing sit on the sofa, smoothed the old man’s breath, and agreed: “Lele also said he didn’t do it, so there might really be some kind of misunderstanding.”
Ever since she answered Yang Zhengming’s call, she had been restless. Thinking of Yang Duole’s faults during this time and his hostility towards Tao Xi, she was actually a little skeptical, but Yang Duole’s denial made her dispel her doubts. She didn’t believe that the child she raised would do such a thing.
Yang Zhengming, who had been silent for a long time, put out his cigarette and reached out to pinch his tightly knitted brow, knowing that these three simply did not believe it. But he knew in his heart that, although Guan Fanyun was stupid, she would not fool him on this matter.
“Forget it, wait until Director Peng comes over.”
Director Peng soon entered the meeting room, greeted the four parents politely, and poured water for each of them.
Fang Zuqing couldn’t help asking him the ins and outs of the matter, so Director Peng calmly described in detail how Tao Xi’s CAC painting was slandered as plagiarism to its final reversal.
“But what does this have to do with my grandson?” Fang Zuqing asked with a stern face; he didn’t know this student named Tao Xi at all, and he was old so he didn’t know much about things on the internet.
Director Peng had dealt with many student disputes, and knew that parents would take sides with their own children, so he wasn’t angry when he heard this. He told them about Xu Ziqi admitting that it was Yang Duole who asked him to secretly photograph Tao Xi’s paintings, and Feng Yadong said that he was instigated by Guan Fanyun.
Fang Zuqing smiled and fell silent, his withered right hand clutching the cane in his hand, Ye Yurong sighed lightly and did not speak.
Luo Zhengyin frowned when he heard the name Guan Fanyun. She glanced at Yang Zhengming with an unsuspecting expression and asked in a cold voice, “Could it be that Guan Fanyun asked Lele to do it?”
Yang Zhengming didn’t expect Luo Zhengyin to turn a blind eye,1心存侥幸 (xīn cún jiǎo xìng ): Refers to a person who has done wrong or bad things and still has the mentality of not being discovered, not punished, or expecting no consequences his tone was impatient: “Fanyun doesn’t know Tao Xi very well, why would she harm him for nothing? She showed me the chat records with Lele, and it was indeed Lele who asked her to do it.”
He held back and didn’t tell them what Guan Fanyun said about Yang Duole asking her to borrow money and asking her to help teach Tao Xi a lesson at a classmate’s birthday party, for fear that the old man wouldn’t be able to bear hearing it.
Perhaps from these words he understood that Yang Zhengming was defending Guan Fanyun, Fang Zuqing said angrily at Yang Zhengming: “Look what kind of woman you found, if not for her ideas on the side, can Lele understand these means?! “
Yang Zhengming supported his forehead irritably. Over the years, it was difficult for him and Fang Zuqing to say a few words peacefully. The old man’s resentment against him was not for a day or two. He silently did not answer the words and let the old man get angry.
Luo Zhengyin was still in disbelief. She was startled and suspicious for a while, and seemed to have been hit hard, muttering: “How can Lele…”
Ye Yurong’s expression was solemn, and her heart turned upside down. Knowing that Luo Zhengyin couldn’t stand it, she took her hand and sighed gently: “The kid was confused and did something wrong. We as adults are also wrong, we didn’t teach him well. Director Peng, what do you think is better to deal with this matter?”
Director Peng had been in an awkward situation. Seeing that someone finally noticed him, he said hurriedly: “This matter is a bit serious now. The follow-up process has to be taken care of by the school leaders. My personal suggestion is to make Yang Duole apologize to Tao Xi, and then you can see if you can discuss it with Tao Xi and see what he says.”
Yang Zhengming understood the meaning of Director Peng’s words and after thinking for a while asked, “Don’t you need to invite Tao Xi’s parents over as well? Maybe it’s more appropriate for us parents to talk together.”
Fang Zuqing agreed with Yang Zhengming in a rare moment: “Yes, children sometimes can’t make up their minds.”
Director Peng replied: “Tao Xi is a student from our school and Qingshui County’s remote live broadcast project. The parents are not here, nor do we have their contact information.”
Luo Zhengyin returned to her senses, a sad cloud covering her face. She nodded and said: “I know Tao Xi, he is indeed from Qingshui County.”
The other three fell silent, because Qingshui County was a place they did not want to recall. They did not expect that the children involved in Yang Duole’s incident were actually from Qingshui County.
In the end it was Yang Zhengming who said to Director Peng: “Thank you, we’ll discuss it first and then talk to you.”
“Okay. If you want to see Tao Xi, I can bring him over.”
Director Peng said goodbye and walked out. He closed the door of the meeting room and shook his head outside the door when he heard the faint quarrel coming from inside.
Tao Xi was led by Zhou Qiang to the door of the conference room, and the hands that fell on the side of his legs were clenched together until the joints were white.
He already knew from Zhou Qiang that the parents who came this time included his father, grandfather and grandmother, and Lin Qinhe’s mother.
Originally, he was ready to visit his grandparents with Lin Qinhe tomorrow, but how could he have expected to meet his relatives on such an occasion first?
Tao Xi stood up straighter and cleared his throat as Zhou Qiang knocked on the conference room door, each knock knocking heavily on his heart.
Soon there were footsteps coming from inside, followed by the door being opened.
Tao Xi saw Yang Zhengming gave him a kind smile on his tired-looking face and said:
“Tao Xi, come in.”
- 1心存侥幸 (xīn cún jiǎo xìng ): Refers to a person who has done wrong or bad things and still has the mentality of not being discovered, not punished, or expecting no consequences