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Chapter 111 Part 2: Second Uncles Entire Family Gathered at Xiangfu

    The next day, after having lunch, Yun Qian Meng left xiangfu to fetch Qu Fei Qing waiting outside the gates of Fu Guo Gongfu. The two of them then headed towards Rong Shan Tang inside the same horse carriage.

    But when they reached Rong Shan Tang, they were informed that Xiao Nie daifu had left for Tian Fu Lou, so then the two of them rushed to Tian Fu Lou without stopping to rest.

    When the horse carriage was about to approach Tian Fu Lou, Qu Fei Qing was attracted by the hawkers on the streets who were yelling aloud when they saw her craving amusement. She then had Le Yao fetch her gauze hat to wear before she stepped down from the horse carriage in a good mood. Walking towards the vendor's stands, she carefully observed all the beaded hairpins neatly arranged.

    "Xiaojie, these beaded hairpins are the highest quality goods. If you were to use them, it will make you look very beautiful and unmatched by anybody." The peddler had a really sweet tongue, not only praising his own beaded hairpins, but also made Qu Fei Qing burst with joy. She reached out a hand to grasp an engraved bluish-green jade hairpin and carefully examined it.

    Le Yao craned her neck to see the exquisite beaded hairpin in her xiaojie's hand, and became puzzled. She could not understand why her xiaojie would be interested in an ordinary beaded hairpin when she had seen a lot of better ones than this.

    When the peddler saw that Qu Fei Qing was still staring at the beaded hairpin, refusing to let go, he was sure that she would certainly purchase the item, so he was suddenly filled with enthusiasm as he gave her some friendly advice, "Xiaojie, this beaded hairpin really matches yoy. It will be a great blessing for this beaded hairpin for a noble person yourself to wear it. Fate has brought you and this beaded hairpin together, this simply means that this beaded hairpin was destined to be worn by you, xiaojie. Why don't you try it on, if you really like it? I will certainly give you a good price."

    The peddler took out a copper mirror from behind him and held it up to Qu Fei Qing, while Qu Fei Qing was too shy to refuse his offer after all his enthusiasm. Turning to Le Yao, she slightly nodded, so Le Yao took the jade hairpin then made to placed it between Qu Fei Qing's fine black hair...

    Crash!

    A loud crash echoed from the inn leftwards of the vendor as a young man dressed in plain and simple clothes was being thrown out together with his belongings.

    "Young fellow, don't stay in an inn if don't have money! What kind of place do you think the capital is? How can a poor scholar like you afford this place?" some burly men walked out from the inn and looked down at the young man who was busy picking up his scrolls as they sneered at him. They then ruthlessly spat at him before a middle aged man stepped forward, one foot pressing down on a book, and he spat a mouthful of spittle on top of the book cover. He then strutted around the young man, so pleased with what he had done.

    "I have definitely paid already, but you just want to extort my money. Such behavior is despised by other people. Furthermore, brother, please lift your foot, do not dirty my book." The young man seemed not to mind the humiliation, and instead, cared more for his treasured books on the floor. He had carefully picked up the books one by one, trying to wrap them with the blue cotton cloth in his hands. The only book he was missing was the one the middle aged man had stepped, but he had still spoken with respect that was neither servile nor overbearing.

    "Bah! A poor wretch who couldn't even pay for his own meal would actually act like a highly respected scholar in front of me. Brothers, go and beat him up! The kind of people I hate the most are scholars without a penny who still attempt to act like a noble gentleman. I shall beat you until all your teeth come out, then let's see if you still dare to act like one!" the middle aged man then swing at the young man's back, hitting it.

    The other people standing in a circle watching gasped in surprise, and all of them looked to the young man with concern fearing that his frail back might not be able to endure one hit. Even Qu Fei Qing, who was watching from a corner felt nervous for the young man.

    But the young man seemed to have anticipated what the the middle aged man was going to do, so to everyone's surprise, he suddenly extended both hands and tugged at the waist of the middle aged man. With a sudden pull, the middle aged man's belt untangled following his movement, and his pants slid to the ground in an instant, exposing his knee-length fur underpants.

    "Ah!" the women surrounding the area covered their faces and screeched in succession. The middle aged man had not expected to be humiliated by a poor scholar who did not even have the strength to truss a chicken, so he suddenly flew into a rage. He pulled up his pants, flustered. With one finger pointed at the young man who now had all his books in his hands, he roared, "Chase after him, today, I will not stop until I peel off this bastard's skin!"

    Seeing these people's capricious mule-headedness, the young man realized that he had came across the bullies in the capital, so he immediately grabbed all his books and rushed away from the crowd, towards Qu Fei Qing's location.

    "Be careful, xiaojie!" Le Yao threw herself in front of Qu Fei Qing, shielding her out of reflex as soon as she saw someone rushing towards her xiaojie, The jade hairpin in Le Yao's hand had fallen to the floor and smashed into pieces.

    While the young man was running away, he turned around to look at the people chasing him and was somewhat aware of the situation in front of him as he dangerously brushed past Qu Fei Qing.

    A strong wind blew past, and the fragrant smell of powder from a beautiful woman's body suddenly intruded into this young man's heart. In a great rush, he turned his head to see the woman whose face was covered by a veil. But the same wind had also caused her veil to fly upward as he passed, exposing Qu Fei Qing's profile and stunning the young man.

    "Go and see what's going on." Although Yun Qian Meng was sitting inside the carriage, she was still paying attention to Qu Fei Qing. She immediately instructed the few guards outside to see if anything had happened to her.

    "Yes!" hearing Yun Qian Meng's instruction, the guards replied in unison and one by one, they dismounted to step in front of Qu Fei Qing with quick movements, keeping her in a protecting center. They not only blocked off those rascals from approaching Qu Fei Qing, but also kept the young man at a distance.

    "Oh! Some fearless ones have arrived! Do you know who I am? It will scare you if I say it so before I get mad, you must get lost. Don't make me angry, or else you'll have to face the consequences!" the middle aged man bragged pretentiously as he fixed his pants with great difficulty.

    But the guards were not amateurs; one stayed behind to protect Qu Fei Qing, while the rest dodged the attackers one by one. In only a blink of an eye, they brought all the barmen under control, leaving the surrounding people gawking. They tied the barmen's hands their backs with rope, restricting their movement then hit them on their acupoint. Even though the barmen wanted to swear and curse, they could not produce a sound, so their faces turned red in anger but were unable to do anything.

    "Hand them over to the capital's magistrate." The soft and calm voice of a woman echoed from the horse carriage.

    "Yes!" two guards firmly responded, then they grabbed the bullies they walked towards the direction of the civil officer's station.

    Clap, clap, clap!

    The common people surrounding the scene spontaneously clapped their hands. Apparently, this group of local bullies had angered many people in the crowd, but nobody dared to provoke them, resulting in the lack of regard for law or discipline. To think they actually treated people like they were scything grass in the broad daylight.

    "Le Yao, give two silvers to this brother." Qu Fei Qing instructed Le Yao softly when she saw the jade hairpin lying on the floor in pieces.

    "Yes, xiaojie." Obeying Qu Fei Qing's command, Le Yao took out a pouch from her sleeve and then two pieces silver, placing them on the vendor's stall before she helped Qu Fei Qing up the horse carriage.

    "Are you alright, cousin?" Yun Qian Meng immediately assisted Qu Fei Qing when she took her seat inside the carriage. Yun Qian Meng then grabbed some tea water from Mu Chun and put it in Qu Fei Qing's hands, all the while looking a bit concerned.

    "It's nothing." Removing the gauze hat, Qu Fei Qing lightly took a sip of warm tea, then with a light smile she said, "I really didn't expect such a thing would happen. Luckily, you reacted quite fast or else we wouldn't know what those bullies would have done to him."

    Qu Fei Qing's seemed fine so Yun Qian Meng felt slightly relieved, and said, "Perhaps that young man is a candidate who came to take the imperial examination, yet because of his lack of experience in the capital, he went into an inn that kills and robs guests. This time we've done some good for these exam candidates who came from distant places. Hopefully, this will lessen the chances of other people being fooled and cheated.

    Qu Fei Qing silently nodded. For someone like her, who had always lived in an ivory tower, she had naturally been unaware of the dangers being around people. What she had seen today was perhaps only the tip of the iceberg.

    "But I still don't know why you were interested in that jade hairpin." Yun Qian Meng said, but her indirect words seemed to be implying something else, which had caused Qu Fei Qing to meet her eyes. But when she only saw the gentle smile in Yun Qian Meng's eyes, her half-opened red lips slightly pursed and the hand that held the teacup slight tightened.

    Yun Qian Meng realized that her guess had not been wrong, so she stretched out her hands and tightly held Qu Fei Qing's.

    The entire carriage was completely quiet. Qu Fei Qing eventually handed over her empty teacup to Mu Chun, afterwhich, with waning enthusiasm, she said, "Meng'er, I'm a bit tired, I shall return to Fu Guo Gongfu first."

    Yun Qian Meng lifted her eyes to at Qu Fei Qing who indeed wore a tired expression, so she nodded. Mu Chun then carefully lifted the carriage curtain and gave instructions to the guard driving the carriage. The horse carriage suddenly shifted its direction and now faced the original path it took to go back.

    Making the round trip had consumed a lot of time, and Yun Qian Meng saw that the sky was gradually turning dark, so she gave instructions to directly return to xiangfu. She felt that in the past few days, she kept on seeing signs that warned her not to travel too far, but she shook her head with bitter laugh.

    The date of the autumn examination was fast approaching, the students who traveled far to get to the capital for the examination had stayed in the inns and taverns in droves, causing almost all the guest houses within the capital to be fully booked.

    And the scholars were quite diligent, as people could hear their voices while they read with lit candles in the middle of the night, they were truly admirable.

    "Xiaojie, there are too many people on the streets these days. The restaurants and teahouses are full of scholars discussing the exam questions. However, xiaojie, you will not be able to guess who they are discussing the most." During these few days, Yun Qian Meng rarely left the fu, but she often had Mu Chun and Yuan Dong go inquire about Rong Yun He's progress.

    These two yatou were in the middle of their playful age, so it was unavoidable that they would overhear some minor gossip on the streets on the way. As the matter of fact, since they did not have much to do today, they started to show off in front of Yun Qian Meng.

    "You little wench, going so far as to be presumptuous in front of the eldest xiaojie. I'll tear off your mouth someday to see if you could still behave arrogantly." Mi mama laughed and remarked while grinding the ink stick for Yun Qian Meng when she saw Mu Chun radiant with delight.

    Affronted at not getting any respect, Mu Chun suddenly stamped her feet and facing Yun Qian Meng, shouting, "Xiaojie, Mi mama is bullying me!"

    In the midst of their noise, Yun Qian Meng could only surrender herself and say, "Since that is the case, then we shall punish Mi mama by letting her answer Mu Chun's riddle."

    Yun Qian Meng then grasped the writing brush in her hand, dipped it into the ink on the ink stone, then added some ideas that came to mind to the previous plans.

    "Mama certainly won't be able to guess." Mu Chun muttered resentfully when she saw Yun Qian Meng ignoring her, earning a stealthily laugh from the uncommunicative Yuan Dong .

    "Little wench, why don't you say it already? Don't you see that the eldest xiaojie is busy?" Mi mama kept Yun Qian Meng her topmost priority and slightly glared at Mu Chun. The faster the yatou said what she wanted to say, the less disturbance to Yun Qian Meng.

    At Mi mama's look, Mu Chun stuck out her tongue. Leaning closer to the table, she spoke in a lowered voice, "Xiaojie, the matter that those scholars discuss the most is your future husband."

    Yun Qian Meng paused, then unhurriedly replied, "Oh? Really?"

    "Of course! Your future husband was the top scorer in the past. Those scholars highly respect him, and all of them had smiles of exultation when they discussed Chu xiang being recognized as the top scorer as if they were there to witness it." Mu Chun straightened her chest as she narrated boastfully.

    Seeing Mu Chun's blooming expression, Yun Qian Meng broke into a laugh and shook her head. Even if she wanted to immerse herself in her plans, Mu Chun still was not finished, "Xiaojie, me and Yuan Dong saw the scholar we encountered the other day. He was sitting inside a teahouse reading a book, he actually looked somehow out of place."

    This actually caught Yun Qian Meng's attention even more than the previous topic. She recalled the events once more, although the scholar had an air of arrogance, anyone could see that his temperament was relatively quiet and contented, and that he gave the least priority to honor and disgrace. Now that Mu Chun mentioned him, Yun Qian Meng felt that his chances of getting the top score was comparatively huge.

    "Nubi greets the eldest xiaojie." Liu Han Yu's handmaiden unhurriedly stepped in and greeted Yun Qian Meng.

    "Get up. Why did yiniang send you here?" Yun Qian Meng asked indifferently after setting down her brush for the time being.

    "Xiaojie, yiniang has asked nubi to report to the eldest xiaojie that the second master and his furen have arrived in xiangfu. They are at Bai Shun Tang right now speaking with the old madam." The yatou was quick to tell Yun Qian Meng everything.

    "Is that so? Since that is the case, then I shall go over there to greet them at once." Yun Qian Meng stood up. The sharp-sighted and deft Mi mama immediately fetched a cloak hanging in a corner, then carefully draped it over Yun Qian Meng's shoulders. Yun Qian Meng then left Qi Luo Yuan escorted by everyone.

    On their way, they had not encounter anyone unfamiliar. It seemed that everyone was gathered in the old madam's Bai Shun Tang.

    Before Yun Qian Meng had set foot inside the Bai Shun Tang, she saw Liu Han Yu already waiting outside, and a low sobbing could be heard from inside, as if someone had been greatly wronged. A layer of cold ice then formed in Yun Qian Meng's eyes, and her footsteps slightly paused, wearing a light smile on her face she turned to Liu Han Yu and nodded, then lead her yatou into the old madam's inner room.

    Upon entering the inner room, she saw the old madam, Yun Yi Yi, and Li shi with reddened eyes. Li shi was currently tightly hugging her daughter, and gently caressing Yun Yi Yi's rosy cheeks.

    Across from them, Yun Xuan Mo contentedly watched Yun Yi Heng and Yun Yi Jie, while the old madam was tearing up and smiling as she watched the scene in front of her.

    "Meng'er is here to see grandma, uncle, and aunt." Yun Qian Meng stepped forward, bearing her graceful manner as she greeted her elders.

    Being absorbed in the happiness of meeting each other again after a long period of separation, they room's occupants only now acknowledge Yun Qian Meng arrival. Li shi released Yun Yi Yi who now sat properly alone, so Li shi could stand up and stepped forward to hold Yun Qian Meng's hands and carefully observe them. After a long while, she smiled and said, "Meng'er has matured into an increasingly slender and elegant young woman now. If we were to meet each other on the streets, I might not be able to recognize Meng'er."

    Her words seemed to contain some other meaning, so Yun Qian Meng only skillfully deflected and replied, "No matter how much Meng'er changes, she will always be uncle and aunt's niece. Even if aunt will be unable to recognize Meng'er, Meng'er will be able to recognize aunt at a glance. But after half year of not seeing each other, aunt and uncle have became thinner. Perhaps the two of you missed your sons and daughter so much.

    Li shi could not find a proper reply for that response so she forcefully nodded her head and smiled, then said, "Children are always precious in the hearts of their parents, how can I not miss them? Although the three of them stayed with the old madam, so I felt a hundred twenty percent reassured, it is still hard for one to be away from their own flesh and blood for such a long time. It is difficult to escape from such a bond."

    "Mother, what are you talking about? Since you and daddy have arrived, Yi Yi will never allow you to leave again. Yi Yi really wants our whole family to live together and never to part from each other again." Yun Yi Yi tearfully threw herself into Li shi's arms, tightly grabbing her waist and refused to let go.

    Li shi had naturally not wished to part from her daughter, so she embraced Yun Yi Yi tightly, as the mother and daughter simultaneously wept.

    The old madam's spirit, on the contrary, was particularly good today. Looking at her favorite son and daughter-in-law, then to Yun Qian Meng, who was all alone this time, she would up her awe-inspiring authority as the head of the family. Beating the table, she said, "Well of course! Where can you see a family that is separated into two? Even if your brother caused trouble prior to your arrival, I will also not allow it! Meng'er, what do you say?"

    The old madam's strict gaze shot across to Yun Qian Meng, and a rest simultaneously looked at Yun Qian Meng due to the old madam's words, waiting for her to respond.

    Yet Yun Qian Meng only lightly laughed and lowered her head a little when the old madam looked at her. Afterwhich, she immediately lifted her eyes, directly staring back at the old madam's greedy eyes and responded in a clear voice, "Meng'er actually wished to see second uncle's entire family reunited. But for this matter, we ought to seek approval from father. After all, father is the current head of xiangfu, how can Meng'er go past her place and meddle in other people's affairs? If this matter were to spread out, people might say that Meng'er doesn't know how to respect elder. Isn't that right, grandma?"

    "Cough!" The old madam had not expected to be refused in front of all these people, and suddenly she was angered into producing a hiccup. In an instant, she was losing face in front of her son and daughter-in-law, and now had an anger in expression. Furthermore she was now unwilling to respond to Yun Qian Meng's rhetorical question.

    "Meng'er has really grown-up, she is actually quite thoughtful now. Compared to Yi Yi, she is multiple times better," Yun Xuan Mo who had been silent gently spoke up. His face full of smiles was seemingly not in the slightest bit being affected by the old madam's reaction.
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