“Bring out the plaintiff and the defendant!” A refined-looking old man, who looked like the magistrate’s secretary, shouted.
Plaintiff? Defendant? Did she really not go to the wrong place, and went to the courtroom instead? It must have been the work of her senior transmigrator. Yu Xiaocao stared at the goatee under the magistrate’s secretary’s jaw and started spacing out. The old man glanced at the little girl, who was dazedly sat in front of the court hall, and thought that she had been frightened.
Shortly afterwards, Rongxuan Academy’s Headmaster Yuan and Head Lecturer Liang strolled in leisurely. Seeing the two people, County Magistrate Wu stood up before the desk and politely greeted them with his hands clasped together. Headmaster Yuan and Head Lecturer Liang also politely exchanged greetings with him.
Upon hearing the familiar voice, Yu Xiaocao turned her head to look at Headmaster Yuan and winked at him. Headmaster Yuan was stunned at first, and then he slightly nodded at her with a smile. His placating gaze seemed to say, ‘It’s alright. Don’t be afraid!’ But, when he looked at that lass Xiaocao again, she was curiously looking around and didn’t seem to be scared.
After that, a pretentious-looking young man, who was dressed in a scholar’s robe and had a scholarly cap on his head, was dragged in by two bailiffs.
“Might——” The bailiffs on both sides hit the wooden rods in their hands on the ground and said at the same time in a resonant voice. Madam Zhang and Yu Bo, who had never seen such a scene before, were so scared that their faces had turned pale and they shuddered as they crouched on the ground.
“Daughter, don’t be scared! Godfather is here!” A loud holler, like that of a large bell, sounded from the crowd outside of the county yamen. Shifting her gaze from the bailiffs to the direction of the voice, Yu Xiaocao saw her godfather pushing through the crowd and coming over in a gallant and spirited manner.
County Magistrate Wu was dumbfounded as he watched the imperial envoy walk in imposingly and picked up the witness (Yu Xiaocao), as if he was holding a little chick. After that, he took the secretary’s seat and sat down uninhibitedly.
“Cough, cough! Lord Imperial Envoy, this subordinate official is in the middle of a court trial right now. Can you please…” County Magistrate Wu implicitly reminded him: ‘Lord Imperial Envoy, I’m handling a case right now. Can you please not cause trouble for me!’
Fang Zizhen touched the side of his cheeks, which had grown some stubble since he hadn’t shaved for three days. He said in a justified and confident manner, “You can continue with your trial. This official won’t interfere and will only listen on the side!”
The fifty-something secretary of the magistrate, who was beside him, had a distressed face and grumbled in his heart, ‘My dear Lord Imperial Envoy, you stole my seat, so how am I supposed to take notes on the trial?’
County Magistrate Wu looked at Xiaocao, whose hand was being held by Fang Zizhen and standing beside him, and thought in his heart, ‘You have already taken the witness, yet you’re still saying that you won’t interfere?’ Everyone said that the imperial envoy pampered his new goddaughter to the bones. Sure enough, the rumors were right ah!
When faced with Fang Zizhen’s nearly shameless behavior, County Magistrate Wu couldn’t really criticize and reason with him. In front of the imperial envoy, who was originally a military general, he was a scholar who had encountered a soldier—he was unable to reason with him ah! With no other choice, County Magistrate Wu ordered a bailiff to bring a wooden armchair for the imperial envoy and put it close to his desk. As for Yu Xiaocao, she was just a witness, so he decided that it was fine for her to stand instead of kneeling.
As a result, in addition to Headmaster Yuan and Head Lecturer Liang, who both had scholarly honors, Yu Xiaocao was also permitted to stand in court.
During the course of the trial, there wasn’t any exciting and interesting battle of wits like Xiaocao had imagined. The swindler only had a little bit of guts, and at the beginning, he had wanted to argue against the accusations. However, after the bailiffs glared at him and knocked the wooden rod on the ground, he honestly stated the truth.
It wasn’t the swindler’s first time committing fraud. He took advantage of the ‘eager for success’ mindset of the people who had failed the examination. He vaguely revealed to the students, whose families had decent financial situations and wasn’t of any special social status, that he had a method to enter Rongxuan Academy and that there was only one vacancy. However, they had to pay a little fee.
Yu Bo was one of the people he had targeted. Why would Yu Bo, who had come from a fishing village, be one of his targets? The answer was very simple. Before the examination, Madam Zhang had transformed her son’s entire appearance from head to toe, for fear that he would be looked down upon by others. She had also given him two hundred taels as travel expenses. In order to appear well-off in front of his classmates, Yu Bo had treated them to several meals at famous restaurants and lived in a good inn… The swindler naturally viewed him, who acted like a nouveau riche, as a foolish spendthrift. It would be weird if he didn’t scam him!
After hearing the swindler’s ‘explanation’, Madam Zhang and Yu Bo lowered their heads in regret. One felt that she loved her son so much that she had brought disaster to him, while the other one felt that he had acted overly pretentious and caused unnecessary trouble. The two most important people in Rongxuan Academy shook their heads incessantly as they looked at the pair of stupid mother and son: With this kind of moral character, he still wanted to enter Rongxuan Academy? Dream on!
Xiaocao was practically unneeded during the whole process of the trial. She only had to answer a few simple questions, and then just stand there to watch the show. The performance of the ‘legend of ancient court trial’ was over in less than two hours. The bad guy was beaten with a wooden plank and charged for his crime, while Madam Zhang and her son had both learned a lesson.
However, they encountered a small problem when trying to get their money back. Madam Zhang insisted that he scammed three hundred taels from them, but the swindler swore to the heavens that he only received two hundred taels. So, the two argued ceaselessly in court. With his keen eyes, County Magistrate Wu noticed that there was something wrong with Yu Bo’s expression. After a brief interrogation, Yu Bo obediently admitted that he had secretly kept the one hundred taels for himself.
Headmaster Yuan looked at the ashamed student in front of him with an indifferent gaze. He had seen this student with Yu Fan several times before, but he had only thought that he was overly ambitious at that time. He didn’t expect that this person would be so unethical. Not only did he want to enter Rongxuan Academy through a crooked method, but he also didn’t cherish the money that his mother worked hard to save up and secretly kept it without his mother’s knowledge. Such a unfilial and dishonest man, even if he achieved a scholarly honor in the future, he would just be a horse that brings trouble to its herd! With a toss of his sleeves, Headmaster Yuan went out of the yamen.
Fang Zizhen exchanged a few words with the county magistrate, and then left the yamen with his daughter. Yu Hai, who was waiting outside the yamen, pulled on his younger daughter’s hands and asked about her well-being. He also stroked his daughter’s hair and told her not to be afraid… Lady Fang, who was waiting in the horse carriage, instructed Linglong to go call them over. Upon seeing his wife’s handmaid, Fang Zizhen finally realized that his wife had come. He couldn’t help but show a slightly silly smile on his face.
Yu Xiaocao rode her godmother’s horse carriage and arrived at the Fang Estate. She walked over a fire brazier and took a bath with Chinese mugwort to wash away the bad luck. In her heart, Xiaocao felt that these were unnecessary since she wasn’t the one who caused a lawsuit. She was merely a little witness who was dispensable. But she understood and was very touched by Lady Fang’s love for her daughter. So she cooperated and did everything that her godmother instructed.
When Xia Furong, who had been left in the guest room, heard the report from her little maidservant, she almost tore up the handkerchief in her hands. ‘It’s that wretch again! For the sake of that damned girl, my aunt has left me, who is sick, all alone! She is only a vulgar peasant girl, yet she has stolen all of my aunt’s love and attention. I won’t accept this!’
But, what could she do even if she didn’t like this situation? She was also only a pitiful girl who was living under someone else’s roof. When she thought of her own circumstances, Xia Furong couldn’t help but cry. She thought bitterly, ‘If something happened to that damned wretch, then there won’t be anyone to steal my aunt away from me, right?’ A sinister glint flashed over Xia Furong’s eyes and she bit hard on her lower lip!
Yu Xiaocao’s godparents firmly believed that she had been ‘frightened’, so they called for a doctor, who took her pulse and prescribed a calming medication for her. After being forced to drink the bitter medicine, she was told to stay at the Fang Estate in town for a day in order to ‘observe her condition’.
The Fang Family’s residence in town was a large estate with three entrances and exits. Allegedly, it used to be the residence of a waning imperial merchant of the former dynasty. It just so happened that it got bought by Fang Zizhen and he directly moved in after hanging the inscription board with ‘Fang Estate’ written on it at the main entrance. However, he usually stayed at the simple and crude house in Dongshan Village. After all, it was the place that his master had once lived in and it was also closer to his daughter…
There was a beautiful, big garden in the inner courtyard of the Fang Estate. With a winding corridor running through it, there was a pavilion beside the pond and a small bridge above the flowing water. There was a sense of elegance within its extravagance. There were five exquisite compounds in the inner courtyard. The biggest one was the main compound, which was where Fang Zizhen and his wife currently live in. Next to the main compound was a small and unique compound that had wisteria flowers blooming beautifully on the walls of the compound. There was only a moon-shaped door separating it from the main compound, so it was very convenient to go back and forth.
Xia Furong had taken a liking to the compound once she saw it, but Lady Fang rejected her with the reason that she had already made arrangements for the compound. When she found out that her aunt had given the compound to Yu Xiaocao, her jealousy and hatred for Xiaocao deepened even more.
This lass Xia Furong still hadn’t gotten a clear understanding of her own identity ah! She had been arranged to stay in the guest compound, which clearly showed that, in Lady Fang’s heart, she was just a guest from her maiden family and Xiaocao was the actual young miss of the Fang Family!
Such a gorgeous and complex courtyard, Xiaocao had only seen it on television in her past life. Now that she was seeing it in real life, she really had the feeling that she had arrived at a garden of ancient times. Seeing that she was lingering in the garden and busily looking around with interest, Lady Fang thought of her daughter’s family background and a sense of tender affection emerged in her eyes. She saw that Xiaocao seemed to be quite spirited, so she told Linglong to take Xiaocao to tour around all the compounds.
“Wife, when did you come over? Why didn’t you let me know beforehand?” Seeing that his daughter and the maidservants had all left, Fang Zizhen immediately hugged his wife and gave her a big kiss on her cheeks.
Lady Fang glared at him coquettishly. She made a token resistance, and then chided him, “To act so recklessly in the daytime, be careful that our daughter will see it!”
“It’s alright. Even if our daughter saw it, she would just pretend that she didn’t see anything! My good wife, why did you come?” Fang Zizhen kissed his wife a few more times. His stubble pricked Madam Xia’s delicate face and caused it to turn red.
Lady Fang pushed his face away and glared at him again. She said in a soft voice, “Wasn’t I just trying to give you a surprise? But, who would have known that you had gone to the prefectural city and I ended up not seeing you! If I hadn’t encountered our daughter at the melon shop, I wouldn’t even know where our residence was and I would have no choice but to stay at an inn.”
Fang Zizhen’s heart ached for her and said, “My good wife, it must have been hard for you! Come, let me massage your shoulders!” As he spoke, he skillfully kneaded Madam Xia’s shoulders. With one look, it was obvious that it wasn’t his first time doing this.
Lady Fang narrowed her eyes in comfort. Before she married Fang Zizhen, the sisters and female cousins of the Xia Family all spoke ill of him to her. They said that he was an uncouth fellow who looked like Zhang Fei . He had killed countless people in the battlefield and definitely had a fiery temper. They also said that he might hit people when his temper flared up. With his physique and martial art skills, he could probably knock someone half dead with one punch, and so on!
Fortunately, she didn’t get frightened by her so-called sisters at that time. After she got married, Fang Zizhen appeared scary but he was very considerate. Moreover, he really pampered and loved his wife. Some of her sisters in her family seemed to have married well, but they had to serve their in-laws and get distressed by their husband’s concubines. They had to fight and compete with different people every day. She felt tired from just looking at them!
In comparison, she was so much happier ah! Her man didn’t have any parents and siblings, let alone troublesome relatives. He was also someone with self-control and integrity. He had never accepted any of the beautiful young woman and concubines that his colleagues sent over. For the past twenty years, he only had her. Although they didn’t have any children and there would be times when she felt lonely, her husband continued to love and dote on her as he always had. To have such a husband, there was nothing else that she would ask for…
 Zhang Fei (张飞) - general of the Kingdom of Shu (蜀国) and blood-brother of Liu Bei in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, known for his rash braveryPrevious Chapter Next Chapter
Some dog food from the Fang Couple🤭