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    The Black Horse

    Chapter 21


    Bad Reputation

    Translated by Wook
    Edited by Wook


     


    Chapter 21 : Bad Reputation


     

    Bai Zhenting’s stature was tall, with a thick beard covering his face from ear to ear, looking imposing. He carried a valiant spirit within his body from working hard over the river for many years, ordinary kids would want to cry upon seeing his face. He had not seen Bai Shiqi for several months, and the first thing that came out of his mouth was: “Are you back bringing troubles again?”

     

    Bai Shiqi could still somewhat handle Wen Tao, however, her own father… she really could not handle it.

     

    She panted with rage: “When did I return bringing troubles?” Besides, every time she caused trouble, she dealt with the aftermath by herself and never troubled her father, so she could not be blamed.

     

    Bai Zhenting was a strict father. When the child was still small, he had thought that the child was adorable, white like snow and jade. However, the child grew up to be such a troublemaker, and he began to have headaches. Moreover, this Bai Shiqi was so mischievous that even 2 or 3 ordinary kids could not be compared with her.

     

    His way of pampering his child was by giving money, which could be called spoiling materially, and his method to control his child was to use violence to curb violence, he had never thought to communicate peacefully.

     

    Unfortunately, Bai Shiqi started to be financially independent when she was merely 13 years old, and once she was able to escort the provision to the capital alone, she was responsible for her own profits and losses, moreover, she was still able to support the group of workers who followed the ship to Jing capital. This had cut off Bai Zhenting’s way of showing his paternal love. In the end, he could not find another way to show his love, so what was left was questioning her.

     

    According to the secret reports from his trusted aide who followed the ship to the north, everyone preferred going to the north with the young leader, not only they had enough to eat, they could also have fun on their returning trip. Nobody ever had to steal money or food, everyone acted as one, and their popularity was growing.

     

    When Bai Zhenting heard these words of praise, he was secretly delighted, but in front of Bai Shiqi, he could not say such soft words and could only conceal it with hard questionings. After listening to such things that were not pleasing to the ears for a long time, Bai Shiqi retorted back. Every time the father and son met, they would quarrel, giving Su shi a headache. Several times she tried to argue: “Can’t you coax with half of the effort you use to fight Shiqi?”

     

    Bai Zhenting was also distressed: “Every time I see this untamable little bastard I feel like cursing!”

     

    Today was no exception.

     

    The father and son had not met for several months. This little beast, not only not showing that—using Qiu Yunping’s words—“reverence love”, the whole face even looked rebellious, making Bai Zhenting’s hands itched: “When did you return without bringing troubles?” Then with amiable smile he greeted Wen Tao: “Why did my nephew come? Is your father well?”

     

    —This was why Bai Shiqi loathed Wen Tao. When they were kids, she had thought of methods to beat him up, and now that they had grown, she still found him not pleasing to the eyes.

     

    Bai Zhenting was obviously his own father, but he was extremely cordial to Wen Tao. Even to her, he was never this friendly. From head to toe, she really wanted to criticize and suppress him.

     

    In front of Bai Zhenting, Wen Tao’s etiquette was very pleasant. It was very different from his licentious attitude when he was outside. Hypocritically, he said: “My father is well, at the moment he’s not in Huai’an, otherwise, knowing that Uncle has come, he would certainly visit to offer wine. Yesterday, I ran into Shiqi, since we haven’t seen each other for a long time, we played together.”

     

    Bai Shiqi feared that he would bring up the matters of her taking in concubine, so she hurriedly changed the subject and introduced the people to Bai Zhenting: “Dad, these two are my friends, Zhao Ziheng and Zhao Wujiu.”

     

    Bai Zhenting had done business for many years on the ship, and he was actually not as rough as his outer appearance. In fact, he had already noticed the Zhao brothers when they entered the main hall.

     

    Zhao Ziheng was just that, a standard hedonistic son of a wealthy family. From the walking posture, it could be seen that he exercised a little, and his footing was vain and weak, which could not even be compared to his family’s Shiqi. However, the one sitting in the wheelchair must not be taken lightly.

     

    Although Zhao Wujiu was sitting in the wheelchair and needed to be carried in by the guards, however, his mighty and imposing manner was eye-catching. If one said that he was treating Wen Tao with familiarity like his own nephew, the way he treated Zhao Wujiu was very different, like a person of the same generation.

     

    “Is this Young Sir Zhao’s first time here in Jiangnan? There are a lot of places to enjoy in Jiangnan, if Young Sir wants to go somewhere, this old man can arrange for some people to escort you.”

     

    He had obviously seen the guards by Zhao Wujiu’s side, but he still proposed to let some people escort him. Knowing his father, Bai Shiqi immediately looked at him face to face, using her eyes to ask him: What is your meaning?

     

    Bai Zhenting glared at this unaware little bastard, God knows what kind of Buddha did she provoke this time around?

     

    Zhao Wujiu got right to the point: “I won’t conceal it from Lord Bai. This time, this younger one came to the south to look for the famous physician of Jiangnan. If he can recover from the illness, he will be very willing to let Lord Bai arrange for some people to accompany in sightseeing.”

     

    Everyone was exchanging pleasantries. Miss Song Si took Zhen’er and stood obediently behind Zhao Ziheng, a bit far from Bai Shiqi. She secretly peeped at Bai Zhenting and could somewhat understand the rumors surrounding Old Leader Bai who would not let Young Leader Bai take in concubines.

     

    Bai Zhenting looked at Zhao Ziheng’s charming appearance, then at the female behind him. He did not take it seriously. From the start, he had never expected that the female had been brought in by his own child.

     

    Since there were guests in the house, Bai Zhenting instructed the kitchen to prepare for a feast as a welcoming banquet for the child and her guests.

     

    Seeing this scene, Miss Song Si knew that it was not appropriate for her to serve at the side, and she felt guilty. Bai Shiqi told Yu Si to let people escort her to the guest room to rest. Before leaving, with hidden bitterness, she turned her head and looked at Bai Shiqi—The two were newly wedded, but they could not get intimate.

     

    When Zhen’er was making the bed, she prattled on: “Master isn’t so young anymore, maybe his marriage is already close at hand. By the time the main wife crosses the door, one doesn’t know if Miss will have an easy time. Miss needs to quickly give birth to a child, so at that time you will still have a footing in Bai residence.”

     

    Miss Song Si was combing her hair in front of a copper mirror. One could see a jade-like skin from the mirror, she was precisely at the age when a woman had their best appearance. Worriedly, she said: “Zhen’er, do you think Master likes me?”

     

    The pair of master and servant was pretty anxious about this matter, and apparently, the other side was talking about it at this moment.

     

    Starting with Bai Zhenting mentioning the subject: “When I saw your father three months ago, he had said that your house was preparing for your marriage. Which maiden did you choose?”

     

    They all made a living from this piece of land. The salt group was rich, there should be a wide range of choices for Wen Tao’s future wife. With the exception of the officials’ families, the families of local gentries and wealthy merchants were available.

     

    Wen Tao smilingly glanced at Bai Shiqi: “I’ve seen many young ladies, but still don’t have that intention.” Then he half-jokingly said: “If only there’s a daughter in Uncle’s house, my dad must be very willing to be relatives with you!”

     

    Bai Zhenting’s brows jumped. Treating it as if he was merely arguing with his own child: “It seems like there’s no hope in this lifetime.”

     

    Getting that look from Wen TaoBai Shiqi always felt that his words were a bit strange: “Even if I have a younger sister, do you think I’ll marry her to you, ah? Seeing your behavior that’s as changeable as flowing water1, it’ll be like digging a pit for my own sister.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu looked at Wen Tao thoughtfully. He suspected that this Young Leader Wen had the same suspicion as himself, and he was amused by Bai Shiqi’s words. However, he was a naturally reserved person, and he became taciturn after spending these years at the barracks, so he only showed a slight smile from the side of his lips.

     

    Only Zhao Ziheng who did not know anything corrected her in a low voice: “Shiqi, that metaphor is used for women!”

     

    Qiu Yunping was also present, sitting next to him. Aware of the relationship between Wen Tao and Bai Shiqi, he nudged Zhao Ziheng in the arm. In a low voice, he explained: “The young leader did that on purpose!”

     

    Bai Zhenting did not study much, and he did not know many big words. These few years, he had invited many renowned masters to accompany him on outings. The scholars were sophisticated even when having fun, it was hard enough for him not to make fun of himself in those situations since it was difficult for an old man like himself to hold his tongue. Because he only knew a few words2, he did not take Bai Shiqi’s satirical words towards Wen Tao seriously.

     

    —As long as these two children did not fight on the spot and ruin the banquet, he would turn a blind eye.

     

    Wen Tao who was just mocked did not get angry, he laughed: “Shiqi is also not young anymore. My father is already anxious about my marriage, but Uncle hasn’t prepared to give Shiqi a wife? He’s so naughty, it’d be better to give him a wife as soon as possible to take care of him.”

     

    Bai Zhenting had been worrying about this matter for many years, but he could not say it to the outside. Being poked by Wen Tao, he froze in an instant, however, it quickly became clear again: “It’s not like I haven’t thought about it, it’s just that… this kid has a bad reputation outside, and the young ladies at Suzhou won’t even look at him, so we can only plan slowly.”

     

    In Wen Tao’s heart: If this isn’t clearly an excuse, then what?

     

    Zhao Wujiu also had this thought, his suspicion was even bigger than before. Originally it was only 70-80%, but now it became 90%. He could not help but contemplate.

     

    Bai Shiqi oddly reprimanded Wen Tao: “You’re in such a hurry to get yourself a wife, are you afraid to live as a bachelor? I’m not in any rush. In any case, there are many young ladies who admire me, I’ll just slowly pick the one that suits my heart.”

     

    Wen Tao toasted her with wine: “Shiqi is right, marriage is a big matter, so we should pick the one that suits our hearts. Then I hope both of us can marry a wife that suits our hearts!” He emphasized the last three words and met Bai Shiqi’s cup with a smile before finishing the wine.

    (T/N: In raw, the last three words are “媳妇儿” or “wife”.)

     


     

    FOOTNOTE

    1 changeable as flowing water: The original idiom is 朝秦暮楚水性杨花 which is a metaphor for frivolous women.

    2 knew a few words: If it wasn’t clear enough, Bai Zhentingis not literate, so he doesn’t really understand the “big words” like idioms, metaphors, poetic words, and other play of words.

     


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    Wook

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