C29 – Just Faint!
The following morning, Zuo Shaoqing rose early and, under the pretext of a friendly visit, headed to Wu Hui Yuan to investigate the situation. This marked his first visit to Wu Heng Academy since his “injury.” The previous time, he had knelt in the courtyard, but now, a different group of servants occupied that space.
The woman who had been punished to kneel had visibly aged, her nightlong ordeal having taken a toll on her. She appeared on the brink of fainting.
Zuo Shaoqing had pieced together the events of the previous night. While he hadn’t witnessed Mrs. Xue’s failure directly, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction.
Following closely behind him, Luo Xiaoliu couldn’t help but steal glances at Zuo Shaoqing’s confident demeanor upon learning that the lord had been made to kneel before the ancestral hall. He wasn’t privy to the reason behind the lord’s falling out with San Ye, but he silently vowed never to provoke this man in the future, no matter the cause.
How many individuals had been punished in this incident? Leaving aside the main instigator, even his own wife had faced the madame’s rebuke. Yet, San Ye, who had only added to the turmoil, seemed unscathed. He was displaying signs of becoming quite astute.
Zuo Shaoqing, satisfied with his mission’s success, chose not to involve himself in Mrs. Xue’s misfortune. He exchanged pleasantries with her at the door before making his exit, unworried about potential difficulties she might cause.
This newfound sense of elation persisted until noon. When Luo Xiaoliu informed him that a woman named “Liu” was seeking him, Zuo Shaoqing was nearly overcome with joy, barely suppressing a grin.
It seemed that good fortune was following him relentlessly. He even began to suspect that the heavens had granted him a second chance at life just to facilitate his revenge.
Luo Xiaoliu, observing Zuo Shaoqing’s excitement, cautiously inquired, “Master, regarding that… ‘Miss,’ where do you intend to place it after you’ve redeemed it?”
After a brief moment of contemplation, Zuo Shaoqing remarked, “Let’s rent a modest dwelling along the route that Zuo’s Mansion must take to reach West Street. It need not be luxurious; just arrange for someone to stay there for the time being. Guide her there tonight, and I will personally meet with her.”
Luo Xiaoliu’s lips quivered as he attempted to dissuade Zuo Shaoqing, saying, “I’ve heard rumors about Liu’er… She doesn’t have the best reputation. Shouldn’t we consider purchasing a girl from a respectable family instead?”
“Master San, even if you’re not overly particular, it would be wise to choose someone more hygienic. What kind of person is she? Have you picked up Second Master’s flirtatious tendencies?”
Zuo Shaoqing lightly tapped his head and replied, “What are you thinking? Do you believe I’m procuring this for you? Not to mention, you’re just thirteen; even if you wanted a girl, it wouldn’t be appropriate.”
He had arranged this specifically for his second brother. Zuo Shaoqing was convinced that after this incident, Zuo Second Master wouldn’t be able to escape the consequences.
Luo Xiaoliu didn’t deny it. Was Third Master spending money to free individuals from brothels not for his own benefit, but for someone else?
It was common for scholars to exchange gifts, including courtesans, but how young was Third Master? He had never encountered anyone who befriended dancers in such a manner.
Following lunch, Zuo Shaoqing initially visited the mountainside to deliver food to Lu Zheng. He spent some time practicing martial arts with Lu Zheng and ensured he took his medicine before hurrying back.
The servants of Zuo’s Mansion were preoccupied discussing the events of the previous night, paying little attention to the unassuming Third Master. Zuo Shaoqing didn’t even wait for nightfall before venturing out again.
“Master, this is the location. What are your thoughts?” Luo Xiaoliu selected a narrow alley in close proximity to Zuo’s Mansion. Exiting the alley would lead them to the main street of Youuxi Town. The property was situated in the rear of a widow’s residence.
The backyard featured a separate entrance, ensuring that tenants wouldn’t need to pass through the widow’s house. It was a remarkably convenient setup.
Zuo Shaoqing expressed his approval with a nod and instructed Luo Xiaoliu to keep watch outside while he entered the room alone.
Luo Xiaoliu anxiously stood guard outside the door, his face initially flushing before turning pale. Although he was young and inexperienced, he had some inkling about certain matters, leading his imagination to conjure various impure scenarios.
Zuo Shaoqing didn’t stay inside for long, only for the duration of burning an incense stick. Upon exiting, his attire remained impeccable, and his demeanor appeared entirely ordinary. Even though Luo Xiaoliu lacked experience, he could tell that Zuo Shaoqing’s countenance didn’t suggest he had engaged in prolonged amorous activities.
“Master…” Luo Xiaoliu tried to console him with a solemn expression, “Don’t be disheartened; you’re still young. Such experiences will naturally occur in the future.”
Zuo Shaoqing stumbled, and a wry smile tugged at the corner of his mouth as he regarded Luo Xiaoliu, who acted as if he could read his mind. “I need to cleanse your thoughts!”
He regretted giving him the antidote at noon; clearly, it was affecting his speech more and more.
Zuo Shaoqing patted his empty pocket, his earlier good mood dissipated. He grumbled at Luo Xiaoliu and then sent Lil ‘Six back to the rear of the mountain.