The Noble Zhao Wujiu
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Translated by Wook
Edited by Wook
Chapter 05 : The Noble Zhao Wujiu
The two got acquainted in Suzhou. Zhao Ziheng was dressed and acted like a wealthy individual, however, his character was straightforward and bright, even after he was beaten into a pig head by her, they still became brothers in the end, which was remarkable.
In the past, Bai Shiqi had also asked about his family circumstances, and he had answered: “just earning a living leisurely under the protection of one’s ancestors”. He also came from the capital of Jing and conveniently spent his idle time extravagantly while his family was doing business.
The two could be regarded as scoundrels from the same pack; spending their lives in pleasure and women, without thinking of any serious matters.
Zhao Ziheng currently looked unreliable, at the moment, his eyes were evading her gaze, and he mumbled hesitatingly: “My cousin brother… is a government official.”
Bai Shiqi: “What’s his official rank?”
A shipping company had a low standing. Every year, Bai Shiqi went to the north to escort provisions and had to deal with either high or low-ranked officials at each checkpoint along the way. Even a ninth-ranked petty official dared to make troubles and demanded bribes from her, thus she had experienced early the sufferings of the common people.
Zhao Ziheng: “… It is too vulgar to talk about one’s rank!” The position of a prince surpassed all the ranks, if he were to tell the truth, would he be able to scare the lawless Bai Shiqi?
Bai Shiqi stomped on his foot: “What are you on about? Your cousin brother looks overly conservative, he doesn’t really look like someone who can fawn on his superiors, and he is concerned about the matters of the country and its citizen, is his official rank very high ah?”
In her heart she had drawn an outline that Zhao Wujiu was not someone who would raise in ranks from currying favor with others, instead, he was the old-fashioned type who earned his rank by working hard without complaint: “Nevermind, in any case, even if he’s a sixth or seventh-ranked official, compared to a civilian like me, he is still much stronger.”
Social class was strictly emphasized, the difference in status between the officials and a provision escort on a shipping boat like her was like Heaven and Earth.
The overly-conservative guy who was said to be concerned with the country and its citizen next door: “… …”
Zhao Ziheng smiled with a guilty conscience: “… Close enough.” The superior of a prince is precisely the present emperor, both father, and monarch. Cousin Brother… surely doesn’t need to come up with ways to curry favor with his own father, right?
Bai Shiqi who had a wealth of experience, mocked: “You need to change your ways and stop with the boasting!” Officials from Jing were all over the place, even if a single brick was smashed down, there could be several fourth-ranked officials showing up. Zhao Ziheng had a shortcoming of talking big, so she needed to seriously inquire about Zhao Wujiu’s official rank as it would be tantamount to ruining his face. Leaving this embarrassment of a brother the way he was, was surely anything but reassuring.
She no longer inquired further about his background and went back to discuss the matter of getting off the boat, and tempted Zhao Ziheng: “The next town is very lively ah, you can eat, drink, and play around. Would you rather stay on board to do horse stance or get off the boat to stroll and play?”
Zhao Ziheng did not even think: “Naturally we can’t just get off the boat and play. Do we just leave Cousin Brother onboard?”
Zhao Wujiu definitely would not agree to let him roam around to play!
Bai Shiqi patted her chest and assured him: “Leave this matter to me.”
Zhao Ziheng spent two more days doing horse stance. Shu Changfeng searched for Bai Shiqi on the ship several more times, but in the end, he did not manage to find her hiding place. Eventually, the ship stopped in a rather prosperous town to replenish fruits, vegetables, and other provisions.
As the ship anchored at the dock, Bai Shiqi appeared and personally went to the next-door room to meet Zhao Wujiu, with a smile full of warmth: “Does Cousin Brother feel stuffy? Let’s get off the ship and stroll in town.” She started pushing the wheelchair.
Shu Changfeng hurriedly stepped forward to stop him: “Young Leader Bai, my household’s master does not intend to get off the ship.”
Bai Shiqi could not care less. She still pushed out the wheelchair and criticized Shu Changfeng: “What do you know? All day long staying inside a closed environment by oneself, it will be easy to contract heart ailments! You, as a subordinate, not only you do not help in solving your master’s problems or think of some methods to amuse him, you actually go as far as preventing him from going outside, what an incompetent subordinate! If you’re really worried about safety, then gather everyone to follow and protect along the way ah!”
Zhao Wujiu had never encountered someone who talked for him in front of his face and decided on his behalf without asking his opinion. Because of the surprise, he forgot to refute her words, and he was already pushed outside the passenger cabin.
Outside the cabin, the morning sun was rising and it was very busy above the dock. When Bai Shiqi pushed him off the ship, she turned towards Uncle Guan and signaled with her eyes while instructing him: “Vegetables, fruits, and also purchase lots of meat. Do not delay!”
Uncle Guan respectfully responded: “Young Leader can just play to your heart’s content, leave these matters to me.”
Bai Shiqi pushed Zhao Wujiu’s wheelchair to meet Zhao Ziheng who had already jumped off the ship onto the dock.
Zhao Ziheng saw her pushing Zhao Wujiu’s wheelchair. The latter’s expression was grave, seemingly very displeased. Shu Changfeng had gathered a bunch of emergency guards and chased after them aggressively, looking as if he wanted to start a fight. Thinking back about Bai Shiqi’s assurance, Zhao Ziheng could not help but wipe a sweat for Bai Shiqi inwardly and waved his hand from faraway: “Shiqi, over here.”
Bai Shiqi was pushing the wheelchair, Zhao Ziheng shouted with a loud voice; these actions immediately attracted the attention of everyone on the dock. People turned their heads to look, and when they saw Zhao Wujiu sitting in the wheelchair, they could not help but stare at him out of curiosity.
Ever since Zhao Wujiu lost the feeling in both his legs, he had thought at an earlier time that there would be such a day. He had been living in seclusion, sometimes he suspected that everyone, including his personal attendants at the palace, looked at him with weird gazes. And then there were those palace attendants who quietly bowed their heads to deliver food and water, but every time, their eyes would secretly and momentarily stop at his pair of legs.
As proud as he was, he felt that he had thorns on his back. Ultimately, everyone, including his personal attendants were driven away, leaving only the guards brought from the army to take care of him, before he could feel at ease.
He sat in the wheelchair rigidly, if not because he needed to preserve his dignity, he might have gotten angry in public. Under his barely restrained self-control, he only squeezed out two words: “Go back.”
Zhao Ziheng who happened to walk in front of them heard the expected two words. Intimidated, he retracted one foot again, pretending to be deaf and dumb, and decided not to take the initiative to start, as to avoid getting sorted out by Shu Changfeng once they return.
Bai Shiqi leaned closer to Zhao Wujiu’s ear, in a low voice she asked: “Where does Cousin Brother want to return? Return back to the ship or return back to your residence in the capital? Hiding inside your room for the rest of your life?”
Her exhaled warm breath hit Zhao Wujiu’s ear, and in an instant, he suspected that she had touched his ear. The more courageous people who walked at their side sent them weird glances, looking crept out to the point as if their blood had run cold.
The anger that was caused by Bai Shiqi making a decision for him without consulting had unexpectedly dissipated by a lot, and he was simply at a loss for words. Afterward, he was pushed away by Bai Shiqi without saying a word.
A group of guards who had heard that Shu Changfeng had summoned their staffs and said that Bai Shiqi was about to push the prince out to go shopping, had their eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. They came over to pursue and were prepared to accept orders, only to discover Bai Shiqi was leaning over and speaking intimately with Master. Moreover, their master did not seem to show any signs of anger, he even allowed Bai Shiqi to push him away. Everyone without exception felt at a loss. They threw a look of asking for help towards Shu Changfeng.
Shu Changfeng: How should I know what to do in this situation?
Ever since Master lost the feeling in his legs, he rarely took a step outside the door. If it weren’t for going to Jiangnan to search for the famous physician, he would never go out at all.
The party followed Zhao Wujiu at a distance. They spread out, inquired about the surroundings while protecting their family’s master carefully.
Zhao Ziheng was fully aware of the great responsibility and restrained his playfulness. Bai Shiqi was the only one who was not aware of the situation, she pushed Prince Zhou to play joyfully. She also asked him sincerely when they encountered various snacks on the street: “Cousin Brother, do you want to taste it?” He had not opened his mouth to refuse before his hands were stuffed with a piping hot sesame pancake.
The pitiful and precious Prince Zhou had been raised in the palace since he was born, a place abundant with gold and jade. Later on, when he was in the army, someone took care of his basic needs. As an extremely self-disciplined individual, had he ever experienced this kind of improper act of eating while walking?
Bai Shiqi knew how conceited the imperial household could be. Taking a bite of the burnt and crispy sesame pancake, feeling the delicious and tasty juice of the minced meat inside the pancake, she sighed contentedly: “It’s a shame Old Hu doesn’t know how to make pancakes.”
Old Hu was the cook from Suzhou she had specially invited to follow her onboard to make authentic Su cuisines, which was very different from the food and drink from the northern territory. However, when it came to roasting mutton, he was not on a par with the cooks from Jing capital.
Zhao Ziheng with a mouthful of fragrant food still continuously praised the good brother: “Shiqi, if one wants to talk about culinary delicacies, one will surely look for you.”
“Right back at you.” Bai Shiqi did not dare to bear the name of white silk pants rich kid by herself. Lowering her head, she saw Zhao Wujiu still holding the sesame pancake wrapped in oil paper in his hands, not knowing where to start. She was immediately happy: “Cousin Brother, taste it. The minced meat inside Sister Wu’s sesame pancakes are prepared in a particular way, they are very different from the pancakes from other places.” She rudely grabbed the oil paper from his hands and brought the pancake to his mouth.
The scent of the sesame pancake invaded his nostrils. It had been a while since Zhao Wujiu, who was used to the Su-style light dishes during the few days onboard, eat something with heavier flavor. He involuntarily bit a mouthful, then suddenly raised his head to look around, looking like a mountain beast in the midst of its meal. It was a habit of maintaining one’s vigilance at all times.
He had originally thought that other people, not only would look astonished, but also would find him as a strange phenomenon. Both of his legs were disabled, but in spite of everything, he was still eating pancakes in the middle of the street. He did not expect to catch only two or three people’s curious glances swept past him, and the majority of the passerby did not even seem to notice his action.
The imperial household’s education was strict and the etiquettes were many, complicated, and even unimaginable at times. Ever since he was a child, Zhao Wujiu had been meticulous. Aside from the crown prince, he could be called a model among the princes. If he wrote one letter wrong, he would rewrite it if not ten, then at least eight times over. If he acted improperly, then he would keep practicing the etiquette until he was at least eight-tenth part perfect.
What Bai Shiqi considered as common and normal things, when it came to him, was already considered overstepping the bounds of what is proper. He could not abandon the etiquettes he had learned from the palace since he was small unless it was on the battlefield, where life and death matter. But once he returned back to the civilization, the layers of etiquette that were taken off would also return to his being by themselves.
Shu Changfeng who was five steps behind, looked at the appearance of Prince Zhou who was sitting in a wheelchair while eating sesame pancake in the street, and felt sad without any reason—how did his household’s master fall to this point?
Seeing Zhao Wujiu took a bite, Bai Shiqi put the pancake back into his hand. She pushed the wheelchair forward with one hand and biting her own pancake with the other hand. In the passing, she bought some gadgets from the vendors along the street. Her hands could not carry more things, so she piled up everything in Zhao Wujiu’s bosom.
Zhao Wujiu: What a rude stinky brat!
He bit into his pancake and had to admit that this family’s sesame pancake minced meat filling was very delicious. He finished his pancake within a few bites.
“What do you want to do with these children’s toys?” Zhao Wujiu turned his head to look for the pancake stall… Apparently, they had already walked for some distance.
“Giving them to my little friends as presents ah.” Bai Shiqi naturally followed his gaze and guessed his intention: “Don’t eat too many sesame pancakes. If you eat too many at one time, the next time you pass by this place, it won’t be as delightful as the first time.”
Zhao Wujiu: What kind of novel theory is this?
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