Zhao Xiaobao’s departure left Li Chengfeng miserable and depressed. The two handmaidens who brought him medicine were unlucky enough for him to vent his anger on them. He flung the medicine out of the door, causing everywhere to smell of pungent herbs.
“Out! Get out now!”
There was a loud flurry of furious yelling and glass shattering from the study.
The two handmaidens looked at each other, pitying the other handmaiden who was escaping out of the room.
“What’s up with Young Master?”
“Yeah, I’ve never seen him like this before?”
“I’m afraid it’s because of Xiaobao?”
“Sigh, why did Madam have to kick Xiaobao out anyway?”
“Shh, shut up!” A handmaiden gave her a look and they all turned.
“What’s the matter?” Green Bead walked over with the newcomer, Su Yuehan.
The lead handmaiden curtsied slightly, “Sister Green Bead, Young Master… is throwing a tantrum.”
The plumper handmaiden quickly added, “Yeah, he broke three bottles of medicine.”
The last, short handmaiden said, “We’re down to our last bottle, we’ll have to get new ones if he breaks that too.”
Green Bead furrowed her brows slightly and sighed. She had been in the Li family longer than Zhao Xiaobao, and treated him like her own little brother. She did not know why Madam must kick him out. Why must she make him leave? Was it really a warning to all of them? Even Green Bead, with more than a decade of friendship with Madam Xie, could not convince Madam Xie to change her mind despite her desperate pleas. All she could do was secretly stuff some of her savings in Xiaobao’s hand when he left.
She took the last medicine bottle and said, “Give it to me.” Before she took it, a gentle voice said, “Sister Green Bead, what about I do it?”
Green Bead turned to look at Su Yuehan incredulously. Su Yuehan lowered her head respectfully, “Sister Green Bead, let me try. If I fail, at least you can come in and turn things around in the end.”
Green Bead smiled. “You’re smart. Alright, you go.”
Su Yuehan took the bottle of medicine and inhaled slightly. She focused her attention as she walked into the study. She knew that even if it was her ‘first time’ meeting him, the first impression was incredibly important. She must gain his trust as soon as possible and become one of his closest confidants. Zhao Xiaobao’s departure had given her an amazing opportunity for that!
She had conquered the hearts of counts and kings with all sorts of trickery and deceit. With all kinds of magic at her disposal, she believed that as long as she worked hard, this mysterious boy would be wrapped around her finger!
However…. Su Yuehan never would have expected that when she confidently stepped into the room…. It was empty.
Su Yuehan stared at the opened windows, stunned. While she was very skilled, she still needed the man to be here!
He was just here! Where did that punk go now?!
Gritting his teeth in pain, Li Chengfeng limped out of his study, then went straight to his father, whom he usually never wanted to talk to, for help.
Li Chengfeng knew his mother loved his father very much. If he could convince his father to help beg for mercy, she might change her mind.
But the problem was… his father was only sane for short periods of time. Ever since he was young, he could only remember a few circumstances when his father had his wits about him. It didn’t help that these years, the number of psychotic episodes only increased.
A conscious Li Chun could move his mother to tears just from a few normal sentences; a mad Li Chun could enrage his mother to her limits.
Zhao Xiaobao’s fate was now tied to his father’s sanity.
Li Chengfeng privately prayed to the heavens as he carefully stepped into the backyard.
The Li family’s backyard and front yard were separated. People did not usually go there because it was Li Chun’s private space. Madam Xie was the only one to go there sometimes. She would sit there in silence, reminiscing past good times with Li Chun.
Upon entering the backyard, he saw Li Chun sitting under a pagoda tree. His head was lowered, unmoving, as if he was asleep. An old yellow dog lay next to him, the fur around its ears and on its head were white. It had accompanied Li Chun for more than a decade already, through both sanity and insanity.
This dog lay quietly by his side. It perked up its ears when it heard movement, looking up only to see Li Chengfeng. It whined happily, then lay back down.
Li Chengfeng crept up slowly, craning his neck to check on this father only to hear Li Chun speak in a low voice, “Your attitude has been getting worse by the day!”
Li Chengfeng was startled, though it was good news. Father seems to be… conscious!
“Father?” Li Chengfeng probed cautiously.
“Hmm?” There was a rare dignity and seriousness in the tone. “You’re here to speak to me?”
Li Chengfeng usually did not treat his father with much respect. How could one expect him to be filled with reverence and respect towards a madman? He often felt utterly embarrassed whenever his father went around the city throwing their name into the gutter.
Yet at this moment, he felt very nervous. “Father, you’re very smart to predict that your son will be coming to visit you.”
“Nonsense, you would never visit if you did not need something! How many times have you visited my yard? Do you even know if the door of my room faces the south or the north?”
Li Chengfeng sat by his side, his eyes darting around as he smiled apologetically. “No way! Your door is facing the west!”
Li Chun nodded in approval. “I’ll consider you smart.”
Nonsense, you think I can’t see the door with my own eyes?!
Li Chengfeng spoke up, “Father, Mother has insisted on chasing Zhao Xiaobao out. You know he’s been with our family for so many years, even if he has not contributed to the family, you know he has worked very hard! If we chase him out like that, wouldn’t people talk about how cruel the Li family is?”
He quickly nodded vigorously, “Yes, him.”
Li Chun huffed. “You two are always getting into trouble in the city, cheating and tricking the poor city folk. Don’t you dare think I don’t know of it!”
He smiled sheepishly. “Those are just gossip. Xiaobao and I run small businesses to contribute to the family income and care for you and Mother. Without us, how can the Li family survive?”
Li Chun chuckled coldly. “That’s a joke. The Li family is a large family, you think we’re merely relying on a good-for-nothing boy like you?”
Chengfeng would never argue with his own father at a moment like that so he nodded vigorously. “Yes, yes! You’re right, father. We promise to turn over a new leaf and stay away from evil forever!”
Li Chun nodded in approval. “At least you’ve learned your lesson!”
He had to strike while the iron was hot. “Father, it is now up to you to right our wrongs! We cannot let people in the streets gossip about how cruel the Li family is.”
Li Chun nodded. “Mm, you make sense! Get up!”
Chengfeng was ecstatic, quickly rushing out when he turned around impatiently. “Father, we’re going just like that?”
Li Chun turned around. “Hey, I told you to get up, why aren’t you moving?”
Chengfeng paused. “Father, I’m up.”
All Li Chun did was turn to the dog by his side. “You’re a naughty boy! How could you say you’ve gotten up when you’re still laying on the floor!”
Chengfeng stuttered, “No… no, Father! I’m here! That… that’s Ah Huang.”
Li Chun patiently talked to his old dog, “Son, please remember what you promised me today. Stop causing trouble outside, our Li family cannot afford to lose face!”
Chengfeng was puzzled. Eh? Is Father sane or not? Is he taking this opportunity to indirectly scold me by pretending to talk to the dog? Father, are you scolding me or the dog?!
Li Chun stood up shakily and patted the dust off his bottom. He turned to look at Li Chengfeng, who was delighted. SCORE!
Li Chengfeng quickly said, “Father, this way, this way.”
He quickly supported him at his father’s shoulders as Li Chun walked over and said, “You came just in time, I’ve got something to tell you.”
Li Chun said, “I heard about the incident with Xiaobao!”
Li Chun: “I think my son is right.”
Li Chun: “You cannot let other people gossip about how cruel the Li family is!”
Li Chun: “I think it’s best we take Zhao Xiaobao back. He’ll work even harder to repay us, won’t that be a good thing anyway?”
Chengfeng could not even cry. “Father, it’s me!”
Li Chun paused. “Huh? Did I make a mistake?”
Chengfeng nodded as fervently as a chicken pecking rice. “Yes, yes!”
Li Chun smiled. “I would never! You’re my son’s mother after all!”
Chengfeng was utterly hopeless. Dear god, please just strike me with lightning now! How can my father do this to me?!