Chapter 197 - A Slap in the Face

In fact, Yu Bo only gave the swindler two hundred taels. He planned on waiting until his mother had collected enough money so that he could give that person the remaining one hundred along with the rest of the money all at once. Unexpectedly, that swindler was arrested in just a day.

He reckoned that they wouldn’t be able to retrieve the money that he gave out, so he didn’t give the one hundred taels back to his mother and kept it as his own private savings. In terms of money, his mother had always been very generous towards him, but it was more convenient to have some money in his own hands.

Madam Zhang fixed the disheveled hair around her temples. Her troubled expression made her look somewhat ferocious. After thinking about it, she still couldn’t accept the fact that they had lost the three hundred taels just like that. She told Madam Li to help Zhang Quan’s wife, and then she went out and walked towards the direction of the old elm tree at the entrance of the village.

At that side, Old Yu was crouching under the elm tree and quietly listening to the village head and his eldest brother’s conversation. Yu Lichun noticed that his third brother’s face didn’t look very good, so he asked after him in concern. However, he didn’t get a reply, which made him feel even more perplexed.

The village head and Yu Lichun turned the topic of this year’s harvest over to his youngest son, Yu Jiang, “I heard that Dajiang is helping with the seafood acquisition and the business is doing very well ah! Is he really simply helping, or does he get paid?”

Thinking of the bonus that his youngest son brought home every day, Yu Lichun smiled like a blossomed chrysanthemum flower, “Dahai is a kind and upright child. He isn’t stingy about sharing his profits and also thinks of his brothers when he has money-making opportunities. This seafood acquisition business with the Zhou Family is an opportunity that Dahai gave us, so it’s considered a collaboration between our families. As for the income, it’s alright…”

Yu Lichun understood the principle of ‘one shall refrain from exposing their own wealth in public’. If he foolishly told others about the income that Yu Jiang received these past few days, it might lead to envious people causing trouble for them. It was still better to keep a low profile. However, he couldn’t control the expression on his face, which didn’t look like the face of someone who wasn’t making money.

The village head stroked his beard and jokingly scolded, “This guy, you won’t even tell me the truth ah! Would I steal your business opportunities?”

Yu Lichun chuckled and said, “It really isn’t much. It’s just a little more than the wage one gets from working at the docks for a day. It can’t be compared to your youngest son, who works with officials!”

The village head’s youngest son was the secretary of the neighboring county’s county magistrate. He didn’t get a high salary, but he considered to be a ‘civil servant’. The village chief had always been proud of his youngest son!

The two were chatting ardently when Madam Zhang came out of the village. She politely greeted the village chief and her eldest brother-in-law with a nod, and then she said to Old Yu, who deliberately ignored her, “Xiaobo’s father, bailiffs from the yamen came to our house and said that they’re investigating the case of Xiaobo being scammed. No matter what you’re still the head of the household, so come home to help entertain the guests!”

Old Yu hummed and hawed, and didn’t say anything for a long time. In the end, he sighed heavily, slowly got up with his hands clasped behind his back, and walked towards his home.

Madam Zhang quickly followed behind him on her bound feet and the two remained silent the whole way. When they were about to reach home, Madam Zhang finally broke the silence, “Husband, I know that you’re blaming me! But it’s something that has already happened, and we can’t go back to redo it. We still need to continue living our lives. Xiaobo is someone with a promising future. It’s just that he has bad luck this year. Didn’t the fortune teller say that there will be a high-ranking official in our family in the future? Xiaobo is your son, so you can’t disregard his affairs ah!”

“Help? How am I supposed to help? When you two, this pair of mother and son, discussed behind my back about buying your way into the academy, why didn’t you think about discussing it with me, the father? Now that you guys have encountered a problem, you suddenly remember that Xiaobo has a father?” Old Yu spoke in a muffled voice. Had it been in the past, Madam Zhang would have already started arguing with him.

But, after what happened last night, she no longer had the right to be so bold and confident. Madam Zhang thought about it and said, “Let’s put everything aside for now. Xiaobo said that the swindler has been caught already and they just need us, the victims, to be questioned in court before they can convict him. But, the three hundred taels… we might not be able to get back. That’s Xiaobo’s travel expense for when he goes to take the imperial examination in the capital in the future ah!!”

“Things that don’t belong to you, even if you get it, you still won’t be able to keep it! The three hundred taels was supposed to be used to save Dahai’s life, don’t you feel guilty for taking the money at all? Ay——It serves you right that you can’t get it back!” Old Yu remembered the time when his second son was lying in bed and on the verge of death, and how they urgently needed this money after separating from the family. However, they had confiscated the money… He felt a mixed sense of shame and remorse within his heart.

Madam Zhang had to suppress her emotions in order to not argue with Old Yu. She continued to patiently say, “Husband! If there really isn’t any way to get the money back, then I will give up on this idea. However, we have a chance to get some of the money back. If we don’t make some efforts, Xiaobo wouldn’t have any traveling expenses when he goes to take the imperial examination in the future. As his parents, wouldn’t we regret for a lifetime?”

Old Yu frowned and said, “Didn’t the money get swindled away by the fraudster? We can still get it back?”

“Didn’t the swindler get caught? The local authorities can definitely get the money back, or at least get a portion of the money back. But, I don’t know if they will give the money back to us…” Madam Zhang was thinking about how to get Old Yu to go to the old residence and ask for their help.

With furrowed brows, Old Yu brows puzzledly asked, “If the local authorities don’t want to give it to us, what can we, common folks, do?”

Madam Zhang took this opportunity and said, “We can’t do anything, but isn’t Xiaocao’s godfather…”

Old Yu glared angrily at Madam Zhang and snorted, “You just made a promise last night. You wouldn’t have forgotten about it already, right?!! At that time, we all agreed to go our separate ways and not disturb one another. It hasn’t even been a day, yet you have already forgotten the pain after your scars have healed?”

Madam Zhang’s eyes darted around, and then she squeezed out a few tears and started sobbing, “Old Man, I know that I have gone overboard in the past. I have harmed Older Cousin and I have also wronged Dahai’s family. But, no matter what, Dahai is your biological son and blood brothers with Xiaobo ah. Can they really not be in contact with each other for the rest of their lives? If he helps us with this now, wouldn’t Xiaobo also take care of his second brother in the future, when he makes a name for himself?”

By this time, they had already arrived in front of their own house. Yu Bo, who had walked out of the courtyard listlessly, looked as if he had found his pillar of support when he saw Old Yu. He choked up as he said, “Father… Son is unfilial. I have made the two of you worry about me!”

Looking at his youngest son, who appeared to have gotten a size thinner and looked haggard, Old Yu thought of Madam Zhang’s words and his heart had somewhat softened. He sighed heavily and said, “You have to remember this lesson ah! People shouldn’t think of doing dishonest practices. You should focus on studying these days, and then try again during Rongxuan Academy’s fall enrollment examination. If you don’t pass the first time, then try a second time, a third time… You will eventually get in.”

Yu Bo listened to his father’s teachings dejectedly and nodded repeatedly. However, he didn’t have any hope in his heart. After this incident, Rongxuan Academy had probably placed him on the blacklist, so he would never have a chance to enter Rongxuan Academy again in his life. After all, other than talent, Rongxuan Academy attached great importance on one’s moral character as their standard for accepting students.

When Old Yu saw his youngest son looking downcast, he patted his shoulder and said, “Alright, it’s already a thing of the past, so stop thinking about it. I… I’ll go to your second brother’s house and ask if we can get the money back?”

Yu Bo’s eyes flickered, and he suddenly remembered that his niece’s godfather was an imperial envoy sent from the capital, which was a position that was even higher than the county magistrate. If he put in a word, the people of the yamen certainly wouldn’t dare to take his family’s money for themselves. But, wouldn’t that expose the fact that he kept a private saving?

“Father, this has to do with my reputation, so it’s better if less people know about it…” Yu Bo muttered.

With shifty eyes, Madam Zhang said, “Son, your second brother isn’t an outsider. Moreover, when I went to town to borrow money from him, that girl Xiaocao had already guessed that this was a scam. If she hadn’t gone to Rongxuan Academy to make a confirmation, we may get deceived even more. Xiaocao’s godfather has a close relation with the county magistrate, so we should be able to get the money back.”

Yu Bo wrung his hands in indignation and said, “So, it was Xiaocao who reported it to Rongxuan Academy ah! I was wondering why the academy would report the case—Mother, you’re destroying your son’s future ah!!”

Madam Zhang looked at him, confused, “I did it for your good ah. How did I ruin your future?”

“Just think about it. To let the administrators of Rongxuan Academy know about this matter, which originally wasn’t some honorable thing, would I, your son, still have face to study in Rongxuan Academy in the future?” Yu Bo sighed and groaned.

Madam Zhang stomped her feet angrily and said, “It’s all that damned brat Xiaocao’s fault! I was wondering why she was being so kind, so it turned out that she was trying to spoil my son’s good opportunity ah! That wicked girl has such a malicious heart. Why didn’t the heavens take her away at that time…”

“Enough! You’re still blaming others for your own mistakes! I reckon that all the books that you have read over the years have rotted in a dog’s stomach!! If you’re going to continue to be like this, then I think you should stop studying and just come back to learn how to fish!” Old Yu tossed his sleeves and stormed towards the direction of the old residence.

Yu Bo looked at his father’s departing figure and felt wronged in his heart, ‘I didn’t say anything ah! In the end, it was Mother who couldn’t accomplish anything and caused trouble instead. It’s fine to go borrow money, but why did she have to talk about my matters?’

Madam Zhang’s whole body was trembling in anger. She pointed at Old Yu’s gradually fading figure and shouted, “Look, just look at him! Does he even think of you as his son?!! In his heart, he only cares about the two children that his dead wife left behind!! Second Son’s family are just farming and doing a little business, what good future would they have? Won’t they still have to rely on you in order to live a leisurely life in the future?”

“Mother, don’t be angry! I, your son, will definitely study hard so that, in the future, those people will regret that they looked down on us!” Yu Bo was very confident in himself. He was just unlucky this year. Next year, he would pass the examination to become a county official and let his father see him in a new light!

Old Yu paced back and forth in front of the old residence for a while before Yu Hang saw him. After being invited into the yard, he saw Xiaocao working in the garden. He slightly hesitated, and then went up to help her.  

“Xiaocao, your vegetables have grown really well. Other families’ bok choy and spinach have already gone bad and are inedible, but your family’s greens are still so fresh and tender.” Old Yu was slightly surprised by the vegetables in the courtyard, which were obviously out of season.

Xiaocao smiled and said, “It might be because there’s not much wind in the yard, so they’re able to last longer. Grandfather come by the old residence more often when you’re free. Little Shitou misses you a lot!”

Old Yu wanted to force out a slight trace of a smile, but he didn’t succeed. He didn't know how to ask for her help. They had just agreed to live separate lives last night, yet he had come to trouble them today. Wasn’t he just slapping himself in the face?

Seeing that he seemed to have a lot on his mind and was hesitating to speak, Xiaocao asked, “Grandfather, you…do you need something?”

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Myst's Thoughts

Yu Bo speaking as if he's able to enter Rongxuan Academy🙄 both the mother and son are so shameless  

Translator: Myst