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    The Black Horse

    Chapter 6


    The Cousin Brother Who Defends the Guilty Relative

    Translated by Wook
    Edited by Wook


     


    Chapter 06 : The Cousin Brother Who Defends the Guilty Relative


     

    (T/NThe original title is 护短的堂兄 (hù duǎn de táng xiōng) To be more precise, 护短 means protecting oneself, family, or relative shortcomings and not letting others criticize them. Since there’s no way we put such a long title without getting weirded out, hence our current title.)

     

    Bai Shiqi pushed the wheelchair and stopped in front of a stall that made mud clay dolls, then she told the stall owner to make a doll that resembles her.

     

    The stall owner was an old man with a gray beard, however, his pair of hands were exceptionally nimble. According to later generations, he belonged to the group of master artisans and the kind of guardian that children in kindergarten lack the most.

     

    Zhao Ziheng jeered at Bai Shiqi: “You even like those playthings used to amuse children, really makes people doubting your age.”

     

    Bai Shiqi accepted his praise humbly, cupped both of her hands, and reveled with a big face: “Thanks ah, such a unique way to compliment me for being young, you’re the first one to do this.”

     

    Zhao Ziheng was stunned silly by her shamelessness and choked back a bellyful of unsaid words.

     

    Without spending much effort, the stall owner had shaped a vivid and realistic mud clay doll of Bai Shiqi. Apart from being slightly fatter than the original, it also showed a kind of childishness and cuteness, and the tip of the brows on the smiling expression was the exact same as hers.

     

    Zhao Ziheng completely prostrated himself before the skill of this master artisan. In an instant, he had forgotten about his sarcastic remark towards Bai Shiqi and ordered a dozen of dolls to be shaped resembling him in a single breath.

     

    Bai Shiqi pondered about the purpose of these many dolls in an instant: “Are you going to give one of these clay dolls to each of the young ladies who are intimate with you in the future?”

     

    Even the ever-solemn Zhao Wujiu could not help but spoke out his opinion: “Outrageous!”

     

    “Exactly!” Bai Shiqi chimed in: “Once you become intimate with each other, the lady will love the doll that resembles you too much to be part of it. She will stare foolishly at it because she misses you so much. Later when you break off the relationship—don’t mention it to me. At a certain point, you will certainly get enamored with new ladies and forget the old ones, and when that time comes, they will gladly remove the arms and break the legs to vent their anger. You will soon be tortured beyond recognition.”

     

    Zhao Ziheng suddenly felt cold on his back. He reached out wanting to beat her, but Bai Shiqi evaded him and actually complained: “Cousin brother, you have to be the master of me ah. I’m merely being considerate, didn’t expect him to bite the hand that feeds him!”

     

    “You’re obviously only making fun of me!” Zhao Ziheng did not spare her: “If I do not beat you today, it will be unfair towards our brotherhood.” He made a detour around the wheelchair and went to grab Bai Shiqi.

     

    Bai Shiqi was as slippery as a loach. The two circled around Zhao Wujiu’s wheelchair, making a ruckus. Shu Changfeng who was a few steps away was scared witless. He was afraid that his family’s master would get angry and order the guards to beat the two using a military rod.

     

    The street was crowded with people coming and going, bustling with activity. Zhao Ziheng was already noisy enough, adding Bai Shiqi, together they were precisely like chirping eastern wrens flopping around Prince Zhou.

     

    What surprised Shu Changfeng was, Prince Zhou only sat upright in his wheelchair, completely unaffected by the noise. He simply stared attentively at the stall owner’s dexterous hands with clear eyes.

     

    Bai Shiqi was chased by Zhao Ziheng and moved around Zhao Wujiu’s front side, which happened to block his vision. He pulled her on the waist, making her directly fell into his embrace.

     

    Shu Changfeng: “… …”

     

    Bai Shiqi: “… …”

     

    Zhao Ziheng: “… You quickly get up, you’re crushing Cousin Brother!”

     

    Bai Shiqi’s head had bumped against Zhao Wujiu’s chest. She felt that her nasal bones nearly broke, and two lines of tears immediately flowed on the spot—it was totally physiological reaction.

     

    She touched her nose while suspecting that he might have hidden a steel plate on his chest behind those clothes to be able to achieve this level of hardness.

     

    Zhao Wujiu looked down at this expression of hers that was brimming with tears. His brows creased and he lectured her: “Why are you so careless and indecent?” He fished out a kerchief and threw it at her face.

     

    Bai Shiqi got out from his embrace and wiped clean her tears. She rarely felt this embarrassed. She looked down at the embroidery at the edge of the kerchief: “Did I hurt Cousin Brother just now? I’ll return the kerchief after I wash it.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu laughed at his own thoughts: I did not even feel it.

     

    “It’s no bother.”

     

    After this trouble, Zhao Ziheng no longer chased after Bai Shiqi, he only stood in front of the vendor stall to watch the stall owner shaping the dolls.

     

    After Zhao Ziheng’s customized clay dolls were completed, Shu Changfeng approached to push Zhao Wujiu, but he was held back by Bai Shiqi: “Hold on, let’s make one for Cousin Brother as well.”

     

    Four hours later, Zhao Wujiu sat inside his cabin, fiddling with a mud clay doll resembling him while looking thoughtful.

     

    When Shu Changfeng came in, his eyes fell on the body of the well-shaped doll, and could not help but recall the event that took place at midday. His voice was also somewhat hesitating: “Master, today after Bai Shiqi coaxed us all to get off the boat, that old man surnamed Guan unloaded a portion of the cargo from the bottom compartment and bought another batch to fill in. According to the law, the ship must be overweighted at an earlier time, it is unlikely that Bai Shiqi doesn’t know this!”

     

    The words Bai Shiqi had stated were not wrong in the slightest. The four words “strict and iron-faced” were pasted on Zhao Wujiu’s face. He also knew a bit about the customs of shipments. He was originally a handsome face with a coldness that seemed to alienate others, one did not expect he would suddenly show a sarcastic smile: “You’re saying… In order to keep me away, he went as far as getting me off the ship?”

     

    Shu Changfeng knew that his family’s master had been in the army for many years, and his thinking was certain. He believed that all laws should be obeyed. However, some civil affairs could not be solved easily just by abiding by the law.

     

    He said: “Cannot rule out this possibility.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu was nearly angered but also found the matter to be laughable, he almost broke the mud clay doll in his hand. Considering her slippery personality, the brain sure worked fast. Now he was itching to think of a method to manage her.

     

    “His scheme was actually good.” Zhao Wujiu originally had a good impression of her after being given the mud clay doll, but it was as if the so-called good impression fell off the cliff in an instant. Simultaneously he arrived at a conclusion: One who is unaccountably solicitous is hiding evil intentions! And inside his brain, he stamped Bai Shiqi with the words “two-faced, three knives1”.

     

    If Bai Shiqi could see her own image inside Zhao Wujiu’s brain, she would probably exclaim in admiration at the stamps on her forehead, not to mention none of them were positive.

     

    Zhao Wujiu surprisingly read people accurately. On the surface, Bai Shiqi was as good as Zhao Ziheng, the conduct and manners were as good as any other white pants3 rich kids. However, in reality?

     

    Cousin Younger Brother had been growing up in the palm of his parents’ hands. If he wanted to compete with Bai Shiqi who had been growing up on the street, surely there would be a gap.

     

    An example of this was the matter of strolling in town. Zhao Ziheng delightfully brought back a small box of mud clay figurines, but Bai Shiqi, while strolling in the street, had also ordered the steward to unload smuggled goods out of the ship in the passing. Killing two birds with one stone.

     

    The mud clay doll in Zhao Wujiu’s hand had a cold expression. That stall owner was really farsighted, he looked at the youth sitting in the wheelchair, and managed to catch the characteristic of his face accurately. The figurine stood with its arms folded, and Zhao Wujiu involuntarily remembered his life before his legs got injured.

     

    Atop of a horse in the frontier, guarding his home, defending the country.

     

    If he exerted a bit more power in his hand, he could remove the arms and broke the legs of the mud clay doll, making it completely unrecognizable. Unexpectedly, he did not continue, he only took the box and put the figurine in carefully.

     

    Bai Shiqi was not aware that Zhao Wujiu had seen through her secret. She washed the kerchief until it was clean and personally delivered it. She enthusiastically talked about the gourmet venues with good food that they would stop by in the future. It was a pity that in this era there was no smartphone, so it felt somewhat lonely.

     

    Zhao Wujiu also kept his lips sealed and did not say a thing about the shipping boat making extra income. The shipping boat’s cargo hold that was supposedly empty on its return trip was filled with private goods. He also wanted to see, what have Bai Shiqi gotten up her sleeves.

     

    Bai Shiqi finished informing him about the towns they were going to stop by along the way in the future, and she happily returned to her cabin.

     

    Sure enough, each time they stopped in a town, Bai Shiqi would personally come and pushed Zhao Wujiu out for a walk. She was also very concerned about his comfort and being eagerly attentive along the way.

     

    Zhao Wujiu was suspicious of Zhao Ziheng’s unreliable mouth, so he took the time to take his cousin over for interrogation: “Did you boast to Bai Shiqi about my identity?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng was awfully wronged: “Cousin brother, do I look like those neither light nor heavy2 kind of person?” He hated that he could not just weep at Zhao Wujiu’s thigh in order to gain this cousin brother’s trust.

     

    Zhao Wujiu waved his hand and let him go. After a while, sounds of laughter could be heard from the cabin next door. Zhao Ziheng laughed heartily, even with the wall separating the cabin, his voice could still be heard clearly.

     

    “This heartless young fellow, I won’t even know if he sold me out!”

     

    Zhao Wujiu linked the behaviors Bai Shiqi had displayed along the journey and gave birth to the idea of separating this pack of scoundrels—mixed with this kind of person, Zhao Ziheng was surely being led astray by Bai Shiqi.

     

    The cousin brother who was defending his relative despite knowing the said relative was in the wrong, thought like this in his heart.

     

    Little did he know that the person he met was not an ordinary individual who grew up on the street. Not only her face was surprisingly thick, but even her heart also possessed numerous schemes.

     

    Without a doubt, Bai Shiqi had arrived at the conclusion that Zhao Wujiu did not like her, however, because of the private goods, she could only pretend to be stupid and be a pain in the neck.

     


     

    FOOTNOTE

    1 two-faced, three knives: having double-dealing and back stabbing.

    2 neither light nor heavy: reckless words or actions

    3 white pants: idiom, children from a rich family.

     


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    Wook

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