Berderap di Tanggul dengan Semilir Angin - Chapter 28 - Relieve Uneasiness of Mind
Proofread by Fu Tianying
Although Ma Chaosheng woke up from coma, he could not speak yet, let alone get out of bed. Madam Ma always took care of her husband by herself. After feeding Ma Chaosheng, she sat beside her husband and talked to him about recent situations of Lion Dance competition. Though Ma Chaosheng could not speak, he tried to smile. Actually, they did not have too much time to spend together in the past. Now, there came the time for them.
Ma Chaosheng was too weak to sit up for a long time, so Madam Ma let him lie down for a rest and walked out of the bedroom to the family hall for worshipping the Buddha. When she was young, she was not a Buddhist. Later, after she gave birth to several girls and was so eager to bear a boy, she began to rely all her hopes on Buddhism. In the end, she still did not have a son, but she was accustomed to reciting Buddhist scripture. Since so much happened these days, she wished she could pray to all gods. As long as her husband could recover and her son could deal with everything smoothly, she would rather cut short her own life.
Madam Ma walked from the room to the Buddha hall through a small garden. She walked absent-mindedly on the way with one maid being silent along her side.
Suddenly, she saw two people talking in the garden. One was the gardener, Ding Si, with a potted hibiscus on his hand. The hibiscus was fascinating, white and red in full bloom. The other was Concubine Zhao.
While everything was in such a mess, how come Concubine Zhao was still admiring the beauty of flowers at leisure? Madam Ma was enraged. She hurried forward and reproached Concubine Zhao sharply, “Master Ma has been good to you. Now he is lying on the bed. But you are admiring the beauty of the flowers in a carefree mood! If you are not to stay in our family, I will help you get out of here right away!”
Seeing Madam Ma come here unexpectedly, Concubine Zhao and Ding Si were all startled, throwing themselves at her feet in a hurry.
“Madam, I was wronged. Recently I was worried about Master Ma, anxious day and night. These days I found it hard for me to fall asleep because of anxiety, so I let Ding Si find me a potted hibiscus to relieve uneasiness of mind. I was terribly sorry if I offended you.” Kneeling on the ground with her head down, Concubine Zhao spoke in a slow and reverent voice without any sense of fear.
That was what Madam Ma hated her most. At first, Ma Chaosheng’s mother wanted him to have concubines but he refused. However, things were different with Concubine Zhao. The father of Concubine Zhao was a doctor. He once treated a patient but that patient died. He was asked to compensate but he had not enough money. It happened that one distant cousin of Ma Chaosheng’s mother was the neighbor of Concubine Zhao. He saw that her father had one daughter and four sons so he suggested him to sell his daughter to Ma family because maybe Concubine Zhao could bear a son for Ma family. This time Ma Chaosheng did not refuse. Moreover, he slept with Concubine Zhao several times. She was lucky to be pregnant and bore a son. But it was a pity that the little baby died when he was born. But Madam Ma still guarded against Concubine Zhao. Every time Master Ma went to the room of Concubine Zhao, she would be cold to Master Ma for a long time. Over time, Master Ma did not go there anymore. But he never treated Concubine Zhao unfairly in her normal spendings.
Seeing her pitiable expression, Madam Ma was more than a little upset, unwilling to talk with her. Madam Ma took a look at the hibiscus in Ding Si’s hands and ordered the maid, “Take the flower to the Buddha hall.” The maid took the hibiscus quickly and followed Madam Ma to the Buddha hall.
Seeing the figure of Madam Ma going afar, Ding Si stood up and kneaded his legs with a cry of thankfulness.
“I was almost scared to death.”
However, Concubine Zhao stood up calmly. She bowed to Ding Si to apologize, “I was terribly sorry for involving you.”
“No, nothing. You do not have to…” Before Ding Si finished his speaking, Concubine Zhao smiled at him, “Well, I am going back.” Then she turned around and walked away.
In the Buddha hall, Madam Ma was praying devoutly while kneeling on the cattail hassock. In lingering Buddhist incense was a potted hibiscus in bloom.
Tian Fugui came back home with one box of pastry in his hand. He wanted to go to the study to meet his brother. However, before he was close to the study, he was intercepted by Tian Er, the servant of his brother.
“Master orders that no one be allowed to enter the room. When Master comes out, I would tell him. Now, you could go back to your room first.” Tian Er stood in front of Tian Fugui reverently, stopping him to walk forward.
“Do you know what I want to tell my brother? How could you prevent me from entering the room? Well, you won’t tell me even if you know it. Just forget what I ask. Okay. Just give this box of pastry to my brother.” Tian Fugui passed the box to Tian Er, turned around and walked towards his own room.
Tian Ronghua sat opposite to a young man in the study. The man seemed to be in his early twenties. He had an angular face and bright eyes, piercing and sharp. He was dressed as common people. But carefully observed, one would notice that there were cocoons as well as scars on his hands. Apparently the man had suffered a lot.
“As you know Duke Wu has always shown care for the water transport. But he could not intervene in consideration of his identity and status. After all, there are many eyes staring at him. My master is the nephew of Duke Wu, who naturally represents the attitude of Duke Wu in terms of the water transport. I am coming here, on behalf of my master, to cooperate with Tian family. However, I could not expose the identity of Duke Wu, so I would just act as the housekeeper in Tian family. As for benefits, you are clear. It is known to all that officials and merchants are inseparable. Tian family, without any official background, could not win over Ma family even after ten or twenty years. We have hurt Li Dafu, which is the greeting gift for you. The leader of Datong gang now is Zheng Depiao, not Li Dafu anymore, so you do not have to be afraid of Datong gang. As Li Dafu still has some remaining prestige inside Datong gang, Datong gang could not help Tian family overtly. But for sure they will not assist Ma family hereafter. How about this greeting gift?” The man finished his speaking and just stared at Tian Ronghua sincerely. It seemed that he just wanted to receive some praise after giving a gift. However, under his understatement was a sense of surliness and murderous intention.
“Your suggestion is really good. But there’s one thing I’m not clear about. Since Ma Chaosheng was in trouble, it could be much easier to control Ma Tian’en, young and inexperienced. Why not choose Ma family?” Everyone wanted money. But it made one feel uneasy and upset to take the money that someone just sent to the door. Tian Ronghua looked at the young man and felt like things were not so simple.
“You could ask me about this. It is proved that Master Tian is thoughtful. I do think we find the right man. In fact, you do not have to think too much. I do not choose Ma family is that I have a vendetta against Ma family. You do not have to know the details. You just have to know that we all want the same thing. When we win over Ma family, we both can get what we want.” The young man spoke frankly.
“I still do not know your name yet.” Here is the thing. As long as there is great temptation, one would jump down even he knows it is a trap. Tian Ronghua knew clearly that there was something about the young man. But since it was beneficial to Tian family, nothing mattered. As for Ma family, he has long intended to compete with it. As long as he won over Ma family, Tian family would be prosperous.
“Guo Qi. Qi means the beautiful jade. But I choose the name for me. I was called Guo Yu before and Yu means superfluous and unnecessary.” He remained calm in his expression when he spoke, but his hands clenched involuntarily.