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    The Black Horse

    Chapter 27


    Translated by Wook
    Edited by Wook


     


    Chapter 27


     

    Realizing that he had made a mistake, Bai Zhenting turned his head awkwardly, and while still filled with paternal love, he wanted to speak out but then hesitated.

     

    Zhao Wujiu entered the room and spoke as if nothing had happened: “Shiqi, since this is my first time to the south, I want to take this opportunity to tour around, unfortunately—” He lightly beat his knee with his fist: “My condition is not good, and I don’t have any companion. Don’t know if you can spare some of your free time to accompany me to tour around?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng clutched his wounded hand and raised his head in astonishment— Cousin Brother was really getting weirder and weirder. Before leaving the capital, did he not “close the door and refuse to meet visitors, not seeing any outsiders”? But right now, to his surprise, he’d even rose up the idea of going out to tour around?

     

    Just when he raised his hand to say “I’m also familiar with Jiangnan! I couldn’t get even more familiar with it”, he did not expect that he would be picked up by Shu Changfeng, with deep concern he embraced him: “Little Sir, is your hand okay? Do we need to look for a physician?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng argued noisily: “But, I really—“ Then Shu Changfeng, “being considerate”, covered his mouth and used some strength to lead him out: “What is it? Little Sir also feels that we should call a physician over?”

     

    When Bai Shiqi heard this sentence, she was disgusted: “Ziheng, why are you so unreliable ah?” And she did not reject Zhao Wujiu’s proposal at all: “Since Cousin Brother has spoken, what’s so difficult about it?”

     

    Prior to this, Bai Zhenting did not know of Zhao Wujiu’s identity, hearing the little bastard calling ”cousin brother”, he did not make a big problem out of it. But after knowing, hearing the little devil calling “cousin brother”, he nearly knelt to this little devil— what kind of identity was Prince Zhou’s cousin?

     

    Brat, do you know that you can be beheaded for pretending to be the relative of the imperial family?!

     

    With complicated expression, he gazed at the real relative of the imperial family Zhao Ziheng who was being dragged out by Shu Changfeng. He felt mournful from the bottom of his heart, as if he was seeing the tragic end of Bai family, the house being searched, and the possessions were all confiscated: “Shiqi, can you stop calling him that? Zhao… Young Sir Zhao is not your cousin brother!”

     

    Bai Shiqi was unaware of the things he had discovered, however after she had found out that “Father loves other children more” when she was a child, she liked to confront him in trivial matters: “Father, Grandfather only had you as his son, I don’t even have a single cousin from the same clan. Can’t I borrow Ziheng’s cousin to satisfy my craving ah?”

     

    Bai Zhenting wanted to ask her very much— do you want to take your little life to satisfy your carving?

     

    Zhao Wujiu turned a deaf ear towards this father and son’s dispute, he still asked in consideration: “Shiqi, if you accompany me to sightsee, will it delay your group’s affairs?”

     

    “Isn’t my dad still there?” Bai Shiqi gathered herself and rolled on the arhat couch. “I’m the best at running around!”

     

    “Really? This is inconsistent with what Leader Bai said.” A faint smile appeared on Zhao Wujiu’s lips: “Many thanks, Shiqi.”

     

    Bai Zhenting’s old father’s heart was simply about the break down into pieces as if witnessing his own cub jumping into the pit of fire. However, he was still quick-witted in emergency, and brought up Su shi: “Shiqi, you’ve been away from home for several months and haven’t seen your mum, right? Since you left, she’s been worried day and night. Don’t tell me you don’t intend to go back home and inform her of your well-being?”

     

    Bai Shiqi quickly threw herself off the arhat couch and acted shamelessly: “… With me injured like this, I don’t know if my mother will feel distressed.” That was precisely the attitude of making an unreasonable scene so she could run off and play, and if Bai Zhenting disagrees, once she returned, she would complain to Su shi.

     

    Bai Zhenting was originally concerned that the little cub would be cheated away by Zhao Wujiu and suffered a big loss. He did not consider this level of crisis and suddenly froze in place.

     

    “Your mum… Your mum, she…”

     

    Su shi loved Bai Shiqi dearly like an eyeball and was unable to tolerate any bumps. However, Bai Zhenting had been practicing the coarse man style in disciplining her since she was a child, and the couple often argued over this matter. Even though Su shi’s most powerful weapon was either continuously crying or driving Bai Zhenting away, it was already enough to irritate him.

     

    “If my mum asks why you hit me, I’ll tell her the truth!”

     

    Bai Zhenting looked at his naïve and ignorant cub and pitied her stupidity, wishing he could pull her to the side and beat her once again. If she was in a wheelchair like Zhao Wujiu, would she be able to calm down a little?

     

    He made a gesture to raise his hand, Bai Shiqi shrieked, covered her head, and rolled on the arhat couch. She should have fallen on the pedal, which could already be considered as a good landing point. Unexpectedly, in the midst of the event, Zhao Wujiu urged the wheelchair to lean over and received her full on.

     

    Bai Shiqi fell into Zhao Wujiu’s broad and warm embrace and immediately grabbed Zhao Wujiu’s sturdy waist like an octopus holding onto a fish: “Cousin Brother, save me! My dad wants to hit me again!”

     

    Bai Zhenting covered his eyes: “… …” This is my family’s child!

     

    Zhao Wujiu lightly patted Bai Shiqi’s back like coaxing a little baby: “Don’t be afraid, Leader Bai was just scaring you!” His eyes made contact with Bai Zhenting’s, using his expression to hinted him not to make a move.

     

    The self-restrain that Bai Zhenting had cultivated for so many years was nearly broken. No matter how he looked at it, he felt that Zhao Wujiu was very different from the rumors outside.

     

    The rumors in the capital said that Prince Zhou was stern and studious, diligent and ambitious, disciplined in leading the troops, strict and impartial, and he was not amenable to reason… In short, he was an inflexible and dull commander as well as a prince. Even just hearing from the rumors, one could tell that he was that kind of person.

     

    However, the person before his eyes… did he looked the slightest bit like what the rumors said?

     

    What about his careful smile, huh? Did it seem like one who was not amenable to reason?

     

    Bai Zhenting used to escort food and grain to the capital. He loved to listen to market rumors at teahouses and wine shops. From the feet of the emperor to the empress in the palace, as well as the princes, the state ministers, to the romantic affair of a widow in the front door of a brothel, the story of a philanderer youth, filthy deeds of big families, inner fighting in the harem, even the affair of a man and his sister-in-law… That one was lively.

     

    He had always listened to rumors as stories and did not expect that there would be a day when the true embodiment in the rumors would be in his house at this moment and caught him by surprise.

     

    “Young Sir Zhao, my child is naughty, wouldn’t it be better if I bring him back home and discipline him properly?”

     

    From the crook of Zhao Wujiu’s arm, Bai Shiqi exposed a pair of big black eyes and spoke pitifully: “Dad, you’re forcing to beat your child like this, are the concubines in the house going to be happy about this?”

     

    Bai Zhenting: This damn child!

     

    Dad is trying to save you, you little idiot!

     

    “Speaking nonsense again, careful that I cut off your tongue and throw it into the lake to feed the tortoises!”

     

    Bai Shiqi quickly covered her mouth. Carefully and cautiously, she withdrew to Zhao Wujiu’s bosom, clinging firmly and would not let go.

     

    Zhao Wujiu said warmly: “Leader Bai should hurry off if there are other matters that need to be addressed. It would be better if Shiqi accompanies me.”

     

    Bai Zhenting was exhausted both mentally and physically. He suspected that he would not be able to save his child even if he stayed, maybe even this old life could not be saved. It would not be good to uncover His Highness Prince Zhou’s identity in front of him, so could only drag himself out with heavy footsteps.

     

    Shiqi, behave.”

     

    The unrelated people had all left room, leaving only Zhao Wujiu and Bai Shiqi. Hearing the sound of footsteps departing, she looked out from Zhao Wujiu’s embrace, only to found out that somehow today, her old father’s fighting spirit was not as strong. To her surprise, he even withdrew from the battlefield earlier. She was pretty baffled: “What’s the matter with my dad?”

     

    She straightened up and returned to lean against the arhat couch. While looking pensive she said: “Don’t tell me the officials have brought someone to our door for usury? Is he upset?”

     

    Zhao Wujiu, as the current cause of troubles for Leader Bai, was fully aware of Bai Zhenting’s abnormality, however, he pretended to be ignorant and pushed the boat with the current: “… Before I came, I heard that Tian Zongping had paid a visit.”

     

    Bai Shiqi: “There are endless people surnamed Tian ah? How come they’re so insatiable like pixiu1, not even afraid that their huge appetite might lead to their doom!”

     

    Zhao Wujiu’s gaze fell on her head, always feeling that the quality of her hair was good, so complying with what he felt, he reached out his hand and rubbed her head. Sure enough, it felt comfortable as he had imagined: “In a young age actually has quite an insight, do you loathe Tian Zongping?

     

    Bai Shiqi was sitting with her knees bent, chin resting on her knees, and finally exposed a little bit of an adult’s worry: “I loathe everyone from the yamen of Governor of Water Transport, especially Tian Zongping, who could not wait to extort from the passing ships. Such greediness!” She suddenly recalled Zhao Wujiu’s profession and said fervently: “Cousin Brother, the court just turns a blind eye to the corruption of water transport officials? Don’t you want to control it?”

     

    Zhao Wujiu was fully aware that every official had their own interests. If you want to make a move towards the governor of water transport, it would not be limited to the yamen. Perhaps one would need to dig in the capital as well and see whether His Majesty the Emperor had the intention to attack.

     

    Slightly loosened the soil2 for Jiangnan officialdom, might as well let it remained unchanged.

     

    But regarding officialdom affairs, Bai Shiqi was very unfamiliar with it, and Zhao Wujiu preferred to see her happy and carefree appearance, so at that moment he gave an ambiguous sentence: “This matter… whatever I say won’t count. Still needs to see the idea of the people above.”

     

    Bai Shiqi low mood passed very quickly. She was able to accept calmly the things she could not change and cheered up quickly: “Where does Cousin Brother want to go to have fun? The brothers from the group already passed the news around, if anyone sees Old Man Huang, they will certainly send someone back. You don’t have to worry about this thing.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu had stroked once, and he could not help but stroke the second time: “I’m not familiar with Jiangnan, I’ll listen to your arrangements.” He rubbed her head again and found that… One could actually get addicted to this.

     

    Bai Shiqi: “Let’s just sit on the boat and float along with the current, it doesn’t matter where we go.” Then she smiled: “But I need to go back home first.” In the end, she still remembered Su shi.

     

    Zhao Wujiu: “… Shouldn’t you invite Cousin Brother to your house?”

     

    ***

     

    The next day, Bai Zhenting was about to return to Suzhou, but seeing the procession that followed along, he was vexed.

     

    At Bai Shiqi’s passionate invitation, the two Zhao Wujiu and brother, together with Lady Song Si were included in the procession, in addition, there was also Bai Shiqi’s dog’s leg3 Qiu Yunping, who from time to time went to Lady Song Si at the side to ask whether the trip was exhausting.

     

    Yu Si sent the group of people out of the door, and finally breathed a sigh of relief.

     

    Having grown up to this age, Lady Song Si finally left Huai’an City for the first time. Not only did she see the novelty of everything in the street, once they arrived at the dock, she was also amazed incessantly: “There are so many ships.” Seeing many bare-chested men exposing their muscles passing by to load and unload goods, her face blushed secretly.

     

    Zhen’er reminded her in a low voice: “Milady, be more careful, you are injured and shouldn’t walk too fast. Your body won’t be able to stand it.”

     

    Lady Song Si leaned most of her body against her and slowly moved forward.

     

    Sure enough, Bai Shiqi turned her head and asked: “Does your body hurt so much?”

     

    Lady Song Si shook her head lightly. After she was dragged away by Zhao Ziheng, Zhen’er said: “Master is really concerned about milady.” If the two can get into the house and give birth to a son as soon as possible, then the master and servant could be considered to have a firm foothold in Bai family.

     

    ***

     

    The shipping group never lacked ships, not to mention the fact that the leader and the young leader would be traveling together, they must not be negligent. The steersman came over personally to serve, good wine and appetizers were also delivered to each room.

     

    Originally, Bai Zhenting lived in the best cabin in the ship, but he gave up his cabin on the grounds that Zhao Wujiu was injured and moved to the cabin that was originally reserved for Bai Shiqi, making Bai Shiqi open her eyes wide. In a low voice, she discussed it with Zhao Ziheng: “My dad is really strange! Seriously!”

     

    Zhao Ziheng had received Shu Changfeng’s instruction at an earlier time, and for the first time, he had pity for Bai Shiqi’s IQ: Foolish brother! Your dad already knew about Cousin Brother’s real identity.

     

    Bai Shiqi guessed by herself: “Is it possible that… Cousin Brother is using his position as a government official to pressure my dad?” Then she denied herself: “No, that’s wrong. Cousin Brother is not that kind of person.” The two people had interacted for quite some time, and Zhao Wujiu did not put official airs on the slightest bit.

     

    Zhao Ziheng: “Why should you worry about him? Adults always have their way of getting along, what does it have to do with us?”

     

    He was the same as Bai Shiqi, someone who liked to eat, drink, and be merry. The ship had not arrived in Suzhou, but he had already arranged a lot of plans. He wanted to play all the things that he had missed in previous years.

     

    Contrary to what one might expect, Bai Shiqi’s opinion was more pertinent: “Cousin Brother is unable to move freely, so we can’t just play for our own amusements ah, still need to consider his trip.”

     

    Zhao Ziheng: “You seriously want to go play with Cousin Brother ah? He just said it casually. With his temper, after we arrive in Suzhou, he will most likely stay inside the room and pass his days with books.” He let out an idea: “Why not do it like this, let’s put a lot of books in Cousin Brother’s room, once he’s engrossed with them, hopefully, he’ll forget about sightseeing?”

     

    “This idea is pretty good!” Bai Shiqi thought that bringing Zhao Wujiu to see some sceneries would not do any harm, but he was as dogmatic and inflexible as an old man. If she brought him out to find some ladies to listen to songs, nobody knew would he smash the room of the number one beauty of Suzhou, Jiang Xiaoxian?

     

    She swept her gaze over and found out that did not know since when Zhao Wujiu was already not too far behind them. She changed her tone right away: “Ziheng, why are you so selfish? Cousin Brother went to the south for the first time, even if he likes to read, however considering his body, it will be better if he goes out often and breathes the fresh air, his mood will be better. How can you just play by yourself?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng was dumbfounded: “You, you… Didn’t you just say?”

     

    Bai Shiqi covered his mouth with a slap: “What did I say?” She raised her volume: “I only said that you shouldn’t be like this! You can’t let Cousin Brother down, can you?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng struggled with all his might, asking whether he was unlucky lately. If not covered by Shu Changfeng, then his mouth was covered by Bai Shiqi. He always felt that his IQ was looked down upon by these few people, they were reluctant to listen to whatever he said.

     

    Zhao Wujiu pushed the wheelchair over: “What are you guys doing?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng expressed his resentment using his expression: Truly a “good brother” ah!

     

    Bai Shiqi just betrayed their brotherhood straightaway, changing her sides just before the war: “Ziheng is being disrespectful towards Cousin Brother, I’m in the middle of lecturing him!”

     

    Zhao Ziheng: You’re awful!

     

    Bai Shiqi: “Ziheng, if you make trouble once again, I will throw you into the canal and let you swim to Suzhou!”

     

    Good brother, it’s better to save your strength than to get caught together, right?

     

    Zhao Ziheng silently gave up the struggle and Bai Shiqi released her hand, only to find that her palm was smeared with his saliva. She rubbed her hand against his body in disgust and taught him to be obedient: “Ziheng ah, it’s not that I want to talk down to you. But even if Cousin Brother is tolerant and cares about your well-being in everything, you also need to fulfill your responsibility as a cousin and care for Cousin Brother.”

     

    Under her accusation, Zhao Ziheng only felt cold on his neck, but then what followed after was bad news: “He hasn’t exercised for several days and his skin is itchy again. Continue to practice in Suzhou!”

     

    Zhao Ziheng almost cried with a ”wa” sound.

     

    Bai Shiqi abandoned him this good brother, and quickly approached Zhao Wujiu to fawn: “Cousin Brother, I’ll help you push the wheelchair.” After discovering that Bai Zhenting seemed to have some scruples about Zhao Wujiu, Bai Shiqi treated him more cordially and wished that he could live in her house for longer.

     

    Zhao Wujiu glanced at the hand she had covered Zhao Ziheng’s mouth with: “So dirty, go wash.”

     

    After saying this line, he went back to the cabin by himself. His apprentice Bai Shiqi was left messed up in the wind: “Cousin Brother is avoiding me because I’m dirty?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng laughed in her misfortune: “You think Cousin Brother will appreciate your fawning ah?”

     

    Bai Shiqi sized herself up. The clothes she had just changed into when they went out this morning were washed from the inside out: “Where am I dirty?”

     

    ***

     

    When it was time for dinner, the few people gathered in the largest cabin to have a meal together, but Bai Zhenting found that his cub had not appeared on time. He could not help but wonder: “Where’s Shiqi?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng: “He already returned to his cabin a long time ago.” His gaze faintly swept across Zhao Wujiu: “Perhaps he’s broken-hearted?”

     

    Zhao Wujiu’s chopsticks stopped for a moment.

     

    Qiu Yunping: “The young leader is taking a bath, it’s been two hours. The kitchen has been boiling hot water, the drinking water on the ship is almost not enough, I heard the steersman said that we will have to get water at the next town in a while.”

     

    Don’t know what kind of crazy disease the young leader has caught today, he’s soaking in hot water and would not come out.

     

    Zhao Wujiu: “… …”

     


     

    FOOTNOTE

    1 pixiu: A mythical animal that brings luck and wards off evil, having the head of a dragon and lion’s body, often with hoofs, wings and tail.

    2 Slightly loosened the soil: giving leniency.

    3 dog’s leg: one who follows the villain, a henchman.

     


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