Chapter 7 – Chaos
Translated by Grenn
It’s been a long time since I translate this novel, so if the glossary terms are not uniform with previous chapters, just tell me in comments section of my wordpress blog.
What a surprise! The man who solved the copper coins case at the Drunken Immortal with excellent rhetoric was in fact his princess?! Mo Yange was stupefied by his discovery. However, the next second, he denied that it. The idea was too far fetched! Furthermore, his princess was under house arrest in Fragrant Garden and there was no way she could be at the restaurant when the situation occurred. Even if in the slight chance she was present at the restaurant, with An Yiqing’s character, it was unlikely she had the skills to help the old man to get back his money.
This must be a coincidence.
Then again, if that talented person was really her, there was no doubt the loser of this bet would be… him!
In no time, everything was prepared according to Mu Wanqing’s request. Mo Yange also sent the servants to bring back the “stolen” money which was five ingots of silver. The ingots weighed down heavily, almost ripping the cloth bag containing them. Mo An came forward and took over the bag. He walked to a stone table in the courtyard and put it down.
Mu Wanqing took a deep breath. It’s time to show them her investigation skills!
“Now, everyone, please take a look at your hands. You will notice that your fingers have many lines on them. Those are what I call fingerprints. Fingerprints are left on objects that have been touched, but they couldn’t be seen easily with the naked eye. Butler Mo, please demonstrate by dipping your finger in the cinnabar ink and stamped it on the paper.
Mo An did as instructed.
Then, Mu Wanqing walked to the stone table with the golden powder. Carefully, she sprinkled the powder evenly on the surface. After that, she used a brush to gently dust off the excess. The next moment, everyone could see the shape of a palm on the table. A faint smile hung on her face when she saw the clear lines of the palm perfectly reproduced.
Everyone surrounded the table and let out an exclamation of surprise.
She continued to explain, “As you can see, it’s a very simple method I propose. There is no need to debate who stole the money. As long as the culprit didn’t cover his hands when touching it, we can compare the fingerprints on the ingots with the suspects and we will know who the thief is!”
She quickly scanned everyone in the group and, as she expected, she saw Xu Fu’s expression underwent changes. Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead and slowly flowed down.
People in this era didn’t know about fingerprints yet, so they didn’t have the concept of wiping their fingerprints to conceal their crime. Therefore, Mu Wanqing had confidence in this method to prove her maidservant’s innocence.
“Butler Xu, you don’t look well. Are you feeling uncomfortable anywhere?” She asked with fake concern. Then, she took the silver and lightly brushed off the excess of gold powder on it, revealing fingerprints underneath. Next, she pulled out a handkerchief from her sleeve and stamped the fingerprints on the white cotton. Finally, she compared them with Xu’er’s fingerprints and saw they didn’t match in size to start with. After careful observation, she realized there were more than one person’s fingerprints on it.
“I saw there are two sets of fingerprints on the ingot. The first one should belong to the real owner of it and the other one, to the thief. As you can see, Xu’er’s fingerprints don’t match, so it’s unlikely she’s the thief.”
Everyone pondered for a moment before turning to Xu Fu.
Xu Fu was sweating profusely and kept wiping his sweat. “T-that… I-it was… my mistake. I-I wronged Xu’er…”
“A mistake? How strange! Did that silver have legs and run to Xu’er’s room?” The deep meaning could be clearly understood from her words. She beamed at Xu Fu and her eyes narrowed. “Butler Xu, how about we compare your fingerprints? We might get closer to the truth with that?”
Mo An shouted sternly, “Xu Fu, you still won’t confess? I just sent people to inquire with Xu’er’s roommates and they confirmed that you went directly to her room without searching elsewhere first. What’s more, you walked straight to her bed and took out the silver from under her pillow. Are you going to tell me you have foresight? You are clearly the one who stole the silver from the treasury. Then, you place it in her room to frame her. Since the evidence is undeniable, what do you have to say for your defense?”
Xu Fu kneeled in a hurry and desperately kowtowed in tears. “Your Highness, please forgive me! Please have mercy! This lowly one’s mind was momentarily clouded…”
Mu Wanqing wasn’t interested in listening to his pleas. She clapped her hands and turned to Mo Yange. Her mood was suddenly good, so she smiled. “Your Highness, do you remember the bet we made?”
Mo Yange remained silent. He stared back at her with his black eyes. They were of the deepest black like the darkness in the depth of the night. At times, those fathomless orbs would gleam like shooting stars. His gaze made Mu Wanqing uncomfortable, so she averted her eyes and looked around instead. “What? Do you want to go back on your words? In fact. It’s not impossible to spare you from sufferings. Beg me and, if my mood is good, I might think about forgiving you.”
Her proud smile and those vivacious eyes were noticed by him. A smile suddenly appeared on his face. “I am a man of my words and spilled words cannot be taken back. So, how can I go back on my words?” He walked to the bench with steady steps and laid on it. His expression turned solemn as he spoke to his soldiers with a cold tone. “Hear my order. I, Mo Yange, have wronged someone today. I shall receive 10 ten times the punishment given which totaled 20 sticks. As to warn anyone else from being swayed by self-interest, the punishment will be doubled from now on. Do you hear me?”
All the soldiers knew about Mo Yange’s fairness. They understood that once he spoke those words, he would not change his mind easily, so they could only obey. “Yes, we will comply!”
Such a character could only be described as soul-stirring. Although Mu Wanqing felt moved by his decisiveness, she didn’t want to admit it in public. “Did you think that I will be moved by your little speech and forgive you? Let me make it clear – I don’t fall for that kind of trick!”
Mo Yange smirked as he closed his eyes. “Start the punishment!”
Two soldiers stepped forward. Each of them had a military rod in their hands. They lifted it high above their head and waited until they built up enough momentum before they swung it downward. Mu Wanqing gasped at the violent act. If the person was replaced by that scum Xufu, don’t mention 20 hits, even if he was hit until his spine broke into smitten, it would only serve him right! However, the one enduring the punishment was Mo Yange, an iron-blooded man who seemed to be a righteous human being with principles. She didn’t have the heart to let that kind of man continue to bear the punishment.
As for the anger from the two hits she received earlier, 80% of it was already gone.
Besides, from her observation, the eyes of the soldiers watching on the side were all reddened by emotions. If she insisted on the 20 military rods, she would forge a long-lasting enmity with those men. As the saying goes, it’s better to have one less enemy and one more friend.
“Alright! Enough! Stop hitting him! I didn’t agree with that punishment. I just want you to stop confining me in the courtyard!”
The soldiers idolized Mo Yange like a god. Therefore, the two soldiers stopped at once and gave Mu Wanqing a grateful look. On the contrary, Mo Yange scowled and stated, “I wronged you and lost the bet. Besides, in our Black Pine corps, anyone who accused wrongly would be subjected to a tenfold punishment. This is the rule and no one is an exception!”
“You! Go with the flow when someone lets you off!” Mu Wanqing cut short his passionate speech. Her eyebrows were raised and she stomped her feet in exasperation. However, the movements affected her back wounds. She let out a groan of pain and cold sweats condensed on her forehead. “What? Do I have to beg you to stop your self-harming? Let me tell you, I am not your soldier. I don’t care about the rules of your Black Pine corps. If you like to be beaten, be my guest. As for myself, I’ll go back to my room to nap. And lower your volume, otherwise…”
After being oppressed half a day by the might of the army, she didn’t want to speak to them any longer and returned to her room.
After she closed the doors, tears spilled out at once. It hurts! D*mnit! I regretted being soft-hearted with that bastard!
It was late into the night, a time opportune for deep contemplation.
As darkness hung like a curtain, rays of moonlight pierced into it. The moonlight sprinkled its weak light, akin to silver-gray fog, into the surroundings. In that dim environment, shadows and lights intertwined, shrouding all matters into an illusory veil that reminds of a beautiful reverie. It was an intoxicating landscape, almost as if it came out from a painting. Yet, Mo Yange was in no mood to appreciate it. He was pacing in the main hall. His mind kept recalling her clear and shining eyes when she looked at him. At the memory, his pace became erratic and quicker. His restlessness and flustered mood could be felt.
He paused, then he hurried to welcome the visitor. “How…?”
“How was she? When this humble one went to deliver the medicine, her Ladyship was still in pain.” Mo An wanted to smile, but a flash of pity passed through his eyes.
Mo An’s words were simple, but Mo Yange could imagine the scene. There was no longer any disgust and indifference from the past. Her clear and vivid eyes and her quick-witted appearance in the morning, all of that stirred his heart and caused him to feel pain and guilt. Why? He had never felt like that toward that stubborn and willful An Yiqing. So, why now? Was it because he wrongs her and beat her?
“Since Your Highness is worried, why don’t go see yourself?”
“She might not want to see me.” Mo Yange shook his head. He showed a bitter smile as he felt a dull heartache.
“It might not be so.” Mo An smiled faintly. “Your Highness must know her Ladyship doesn’t like this humble one. However, when I delivered the medicine, her Ladyship went to me and cried bitterly. She even said ‘Uncle Butler, I knew you are a good person.’ She also complained about the pain and repeatedly cursed your Highness. Please don’t misunderstand! Although this sounds bad, it is different from before. Her Ladyship’s expression and intonation didn’t show any loathing. In fact, she seemed like a little girl throwing a tantrum.”
“Is that so?” Mo Yange was a bit startled. He felt a bit complicated. “Did she say anything else?”
“She said she shouldn’t have spared you from the 20 rods.” Mo An sighed as he glanced at Mo Yange. He continued to report, “She doesn’t know that your Highness still underwent the complete punishment. This humble one didn’t inform her Ladyship as per your orders. May I inquire how your current injuries are?”
“Nothing much. Besides, I ought to be punished since I wasn’t fair to her.” After going through numerous mortal situations, a punishment of 20 rods wasn’t anything Mo Yange would fret over. On the contrary, for a pampered young woman like An Yiqing, such beating was too much. In addition, he knew that his soldiers would not light their hands for the weaker sex. “Are her injuries serious?”
“They are not light, but, from my observation, her Ladyship was very energetic.”
Mo Yange became silent. He was troubled, but he didn’t know what else to say. Suddenly, he exclaimed. “Mo An, didn’t she go out a few days ago?” At this point, he was almost sure she was the person at the Drunken Immortal. No wonder Mo An couldn’t find that person before!
“Yes!” Since he couldn’t conceal the matter, he revealed it.
Mo Yange’s expression became overcast. “Then…”
“Rest assured, Your Highness! I already inquired about it. Her Ladyship was strolling around and didn’t leave the place.” Then, he remembered the princess’ weird behavior the past days and decided to report the matter. “Your Highness, she is very unlike her usual self. She had requested a bottle of anti-inflammatory medicine for Xu’er who was slapped by Xu Fu.”
“Yes! That is unusual for her.”
The An Yiqing before would never help a completely unrelated old man for nothing let alone defending her maidservants. If it was before, she would never show such an unyielding attitude when he wanted to punish her. If it was the her before, she would cry, make a ruckus and use her parents’ prestige to suppress him. She may even point at him and screamed that he was an ungrateful man. She would hurl insults at him, saying he was a vicious and barbarous savage, never letting go of any opportunities to humiliate him before walking away…
She was truly different and this difference left him confused, but it didn’t make him feel impatient.
“Your Highness!” Mo An noticed Mo Yange’s expression. He assessed his master’s thoughts before he mustered the courage to say, “Her Ladyship has amnesia which explains her changes. There is no harm in trying to mend your relationship. Perhaps, there will be happiness and blessing in this marriage and it will end the disharmony within the house. As the saying goes, if the family lives in harmony all affairs will prosper. Don’t you hope for such a result, Your Highness?”
“If the family lives in harmony all affairs will prosper, huh?” Mo Yange mumbled as he fell into contemplation.
The next day, when he saw Chu Zheng, Mo Yange declared, “Crown Prince, there is absolutely no way I can give you that girl we saw in Drunken Immortal because… she… already has someone!”