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    The Black Horse

    Chapter 32.2


    Translated by Wook
    Edited by sienz


     

    Everyone was caught off guard. Bai Shiqi had successfully escaped and avoided the servants and guards who were patrolling in the courtyard. She touched down in Zhao Ziheng’s courtyard, leaned over the window, and whispered: “Ziheng—your painkiller has come!”

     

    Zhao Ziheng opened the window and she scuttled into the room, then she closed the window with her hand. She looked left and right and only found him alone in his middle clothes, so she sat cross-legged on the table inappropriately.

     

    “What painkiller?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng thought that she had brought wine over again. He looked at her body, but did not find anything, and felt rather disappointed: “Didn’t you say you’re bringing me painkiller?”

     

    Bai Shiqi was acting all mysterious: “The painkiller is not at home. If you want it, you have to go outside the residence.”

     

    Zhao Ziheng became extremely angry: “Come on, you’re lying to me again! Before this, you threw mice into Cousin Brother’s cabin, but I was the one getting beaten. This time around what else do you want to do to me?” The place where he was beaten with the plank was still hurting, so he could not help but say a few words to his good brother. He could not restrain himself anymore after seeing the person before him.

     

    Bai Shiqi was tolerant and replied with a smile: “Hasn’t this matter already passed? Do men need to bother about trivial things like this? I came here today because I want to compensate you!” She winked her eye and continued: “Do you understand?”

     

    The two people’s minds moved as if they had telepathic powers. Zhao Ziheng raised his eyebrows with joy: “Jiang Xiaoxian?”

     

    Bai Shiqi clapped her hands happily: “How else can we say that we’re brothers?” She looked around his room: “Do you have any clothes that I can borrow? I need to disguise myself as your attendant, then we can go out from the main gate.”

     

    Zhao Ziheng tidied up and sent the guard who was guarding in the courtyard away first: “Tell Cousin Brother, it’s still early, so I’m going for a trip to my grandfather’s house. I’ll come back tomorrow morning, don’t let me delay his affairs.”

     

    That guard went to report to Zhao Wujiu and when he returned, the courtyard was already deserted. He heard from the servants of the Bai family that Little Sir Zhao had taken along a servant of the Bai family and had already left the residence. When he heard that, he went back to report to Zhao Wujiu.

     

    Zhao Wujiu: “A servant of the Bai family?”

     

    Shu Changfeng: “The thirteenth lang is close with Young Leader Bai. Perhaps he borrowed someone from her because our people are not familiar with Suzhou, so it’s more convenient to go with someone from the Bai family.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu questioned the guard again: “Did the thirteenth lang just plan to visit his maternal grandfather’s house out of nowhere and send someone to find Young Leader Bai?”

     

    The guard: “The thirteenth lang had been resting ever since he returned to the room. He didn’t instruct this small one to find Young Leader Bai, it seemed like he had just woken up and remembered that he wanted to go outside.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu: “Had he prepared any gifts?”

     

    The guard: “There are no precious objects inside the guest room, so he shouldn’t have prepared any. Originally this subordinate had thought that he would accompany the thirteenth lang to buy some gifts once he returns from reporting to Master.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu: “Go and see whether Young Leader Bai is still in the residence?”

     

    The guard went and returned: “Young Leader Bai and Qiu Yunping are checking the accounts in the study room.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu: “Did you see Young Leader Bai personally?”

     

    The guard: “There are two subordinates of Leader Bai guarding the front door, saying that the young leader has instructed them to forbid anyone from disturbing them, as they’re going to check the accounts all night.”

     

    ***

     

    Zhao Ziheng took Bai Shiqi, who bent her body and bowed her head, all the way out of Bai residence unimpeded. In addition, the night had come, lights were lit everywhere in Bai residence, though they were rather dim. At the moment, nobody knew that Bai Shiqi had secretly gone out of the residence.

     

    Both of them had rod injuries on their legs. Although it did not necessarily cause their deaths, they could not walk easily, so they hired a carriage at the entrance of the street and went straight to Jiang Xiaoxian’s place.

     

    Jiang Xiaoxian had been on the market for one year, because of her looks and skills, particularly her wonderful singing voice, she became popular in the whole Suzhou City. Many people threw away their money recklessly either because they truly admire her skills or because they were seeking pleasure.

     

    Today was also the two people’s lucky day. Jiang Xiaoxian had been feeling unwell because of the cold wind blowing at the riverside when she was on the pleasure boat two days ago, however, she got better today. She did not dare to go to the riverside again because of the cold wind, so she did not go to the pleasure boat and only served the guests at home.

     

    Her home was an elaborate house by the riverbank. A gorgeously dressed hostess was greeting the guests at the main door. Seeing Zhao Ziheng, she came over to pull his arm: “This young master looks somewhat unfamiliar, not sure how should I address you?”

     

    Bai Shiqi came out from his behind and smiled: “Lady Yao, can your old habit of pulling the arms of young and handsome masters at the first sight be changed?” She hooked Zhao Ziheng’s shoulder and took him to the side easily, then she touched Lady Yao’s face as easily: “This is my brother. Don’t frighten him.”

     

    Lady Yao’s house had been raising several bought maidens, who were taught to sing and other arts. Once they turned 14 to 15 years old, they would be listed to receive guests and divided into grades. Jiang Xiaoxian was sold to her by her parents when she was 3 to 4 years old. She took her late family’s surname, and so she was called Jiang Xiaoxian. Now she was the most promising maiden in her house.

     

    She had been in the place of pleasure for a long time, her pair of eyes recognized a lot of people. Looking pleasantly surprised, she started: “Master Shiqi, this can be considered as your esteemed self’s homecoming. Xiaoxian often talks about why you haven’t returned yet!” Then she sighed in annoyance: “Don’t fool me. None of those who followed you are cowards!”

     

    Bai Shiqi laughed heartily: “It is still Lady Yao who understands me!” She conveniently passed her a silver ingot: “This is the first time my brother came here, give us a seat in the hall.”

     

    Lady Yao assigned two servant girls to lead them in. The servant girls who were serving here were also dressed in red and green, with lovely voices like an oriole. When the two entered, the seats in the hall were already filled with a lot of guests. Unexpectedly, Wen Tao had also brought several famous youths to sit at a table.

     

    Shiqi called out to him from a distance: “When did Brother Wen arrive in Suzhou? You didn’t even tell me, I could’ve done my best as a host ah.”

     

    Today, Wen Tao had invited several young masters from the Yamen family who had relations with the salt group for dinner. One of them had proposed that he wanted to hear Jiang Xiaoxian’s singing, hence he complied. The table was not far from them, and not long after he sat down, he saw Bai Shiqi came in. His heart was filled with terrible curses towards her, but instead of cursing out loud, he put on a smiling face: “Since we’ve already met, why don’t we sit together?”

     

    Bai Shiqi really hated this hypocritical act of his. One of the youths sitting at the table was also her acquaintance, a child that was officially surnamed Han, so she took Zhao Ziheng and sat over.

     

    Little Sir Han was surprised: “Shiqi lang, you’re acquainted with Young Sir Wen?”

     

    Wen Tao’s face was abnormally thick. It had not been three to five days since he last lost his face, but when meeting Bai Shiqi again, he adopted the look of someone who had forgotten about the dirt in the past. He cordially introduced to Little Sir Han: “My father and Uncle Bai had known each other for many years. The two families are friends, so I have some relations with Shiqi and we often meet. We can be considered as childhood sweethearts.” Then he sent a provocative look towards Bai Shiqi.

     

    Everyone burst into laughter, and Little Sir Han could not help but laugh: “Brother Wen, you and Shiqi are both men, it should be called childhood friends, not childhood sweethearts.”

     

    Bai Shiqi also answered smilingly: “Brother Han’s words are wrong. Brother Wen has long wanted to be someone else’s little green plum, he has been suffering from a man’s unfulfilled long-cherished wish. How about borrowing a skirt from Lady Jiang today and wear it, it can be considered as fulfilling his dream.”

    [little green plum: a male playmate, above friends, below lovers.]

     

    Wen Tao leaned his body forward, with a smile on his lips, but his dark eyes solemnly gazed intently at Bai Shiqi, as if he was pointing out something: “I was born with this figure, even if I wear it, it won’t look like it ah. Anyway, we’re good brothers, so we can share everything. Shiqi must be pretty if you dress like a woman, wouldn’t it be better if you wear it?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng was also born charming. He was often praised by those noble ladies as “born more attractive than a woman”, so he hated these words the most and simultaneously also hated the look Wen Tao was giving Bai Shiqi. He took a glass of wine and sat between the two. The wine cup was raised almost up to Wen Tao’s nose: “I haven’t seen Young Sir Wen for a few days. Many thanks for your hospitality in Huai’an, I’ll drink this cup as my respect for you!” Then he struck a pose of drinking, but his hand was slightly crooked so some of the wine was spilled at Wen Tao’s robe.

     

    Aiyo! Sorry, sorry!”

     

    Wen Tao brushed off his robe and answered naturally: “Everyone present today are young talents. Since we’re coming to see Lady Xiaoxian, of course you won’t care for me this irrelevant person, but that’s okay. However, Young Sir Zhao’s hand must be steady, don’t spill more wine.”

     

    Zhao Ziheng’s attitude was extremely sincere: ”Certainly. I’ve let Brother Wen seen a joke! I’ve been looking forward to seeing the famous Lady Ziaoxian. Thinking that I would be able to see her soon, I was moved emotionally that even my hand also moved and shook in excitement. I’m truly sorry!”

     

    Little Sir Han helped smooth things over: “We came for Lady Xiaoxian’s singing, let’s not hurt our friendship.” He was an old friend of the two Wen and Bai, however, he had never heard any of them mentioning the other. Many speculations were birthed in his heart, it was a pity they all needed to be confirmed first.

     

    The servant girls fluttered between them like butterflies among flowers, serving wine, some dishes, and fresh and dried fruits from the four seasons. Before they were set, a faint huqin sound echoed from the nook, which subdued the voices of the people inside the hall.

     

    Four beautiful women began with a dance. Their faces were all covered by light muslins, so one could not see their real faces, however, the waists were as slim as spring willows, the feet were as sharp and soft as bamboo shoots, treading on the red fabric, attracting the gazes of everyone around.

     

    Lady Yao, who was at the doorway, guessed that all the guests for today had arrived, so she prepared to return inside to rest. Suddenly, a carriage sped over, and to add to that, the coachman’s driving skill was superb. The horse was already closing in, but he had not pulled the reins yet, making Lady Yao mistakenly think that she was going to be trampled into a mess tonight.

     

    Before the carriage stopped, a young man jumped from inside and asked: “Is there a lady named Jiang Xiaoxian here?”

     

    After Jiang Xiaoxian was listed, there were a lot of guests who came because of the reputation. Lady Yao had experienced this kind of situation numerous times. She suppressed her heart that had been thumping wildly and squeezed out a shallow smile to greet the guest: “My house’s Xiaoxian is famous in Suzhou. If Young Sir is asking about Jiang Xiaoxian of Suzhou City, it must be my house’s girl. Young Sir, please come in.”

     

    From inside the carriage came out a voice: ”Changfeng—“ Then the young man went over to hear his instructions. Inside Lady Yao’s heart: Coming with such a huge momentum, this must be a rich lord. Should be served carefully.

     

    When Shu Changfeng returned, her smile seemed like it was blended with honey, looking sweet and intimate: “Don’t know where this old one could be of assistance?”

     

    Shu Changfeng replied: “My family’s master has inconvenience in his legs and doesn’t like noisiness. So we’d like a place where we can see Lady Xiaoxian without being disturbed.”

     

    Lady Yao returned: “This is easy.” Then she let the carriage go through the courtyard into the back building and stared blankly when Shu Changfeng lifted a wheelchair down. She could not help sighing: Already handicapped, doesn’t stay at home and care for himself, but instead, comes here to seek pleasure. Is this how one dies from sexual intercourse?

     

    Her belly was filled with mockery for a period of time, however, her face was still plastered with a professional smile that she had cultivated for many years in the business world. Until Zhao Wujiu went down the carriage and sat on the wheelchair, she could not help but secretly praised: This master was born good-looking. What a pity… he can’t walk.

     

    Zhao Wujiu looked at the courtyard filled with lanterns as well as the servant girls who came and went, his face grew worse and worse. Lady Yao had been paying attention to his expression and she suddenly felt a chill down her back. She anxiously led the two master and servant straight to the stairways and headed to the private room upstairs.

     


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    Wook's notes:

    I'm going to put the footnotes at the end of the paragraph instead of at the end of the chapter now (for every series), what do you guys think? Should I keep it like this or should we go back to putting it at the end of the chapter? :D

    Wook

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