AIP - Chapter 30: A Plan Crafted for the Target
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
In the afternoon, Shi Yue paid a visit to the garden. As she watched Tang Jie work away, she softly laughed and gracefully walked over. Standing behind him, she slapped him on the back and shouted, "Hey!"
Tang Jie was unperturbed, calmly turning around and saying, "Good afternoon, Elder Sister Shi Yue."
"Is scaring you once that difficult? You already saw me a while ago, right?" Shi Yue asked, looking at Tang Jie with her big, watery eyes.
"I just heard your footsteps," Tang Jie replied. "Right, how is it that you're free to see me right now?"
Shi Yue covered her mouth and chuckled. "Isn't that because of all the trouble you lot have caused? It wasn't even noon when that Young Master Ji went back to the madame. You weren't there to see it, but his eyes were all red, on the verge of tears! I heard that you treated him rather savagely?"
"It has nothing to do with me." Tang Jie spread apart his hands and acted as if he was being unjustly accused. "It was just Shi Mo teaching him the rules for servants. That Young Master Ji just couldn't take it."
Tang Jie proceeded to recount how Shi Mo had 'instructed' Ji Ziqian in how to be a servant. Shi Mo had not allowed Ji Ziqian to relax, working for the entire morning and truly treating him like a servant.
Ji Ziqian was unexpectedly so patient as to endure it all, but unfortunately, he was still a young master. Normally, he was the one being attended upon, so he had no idea how to do such things. Even if he was willing to do it, he wouldn't be able to do it well. Thus, Shi Mo had disciplined him quite a few times over the morning.
With Chai Si having been forced away and all of the servants intentionally ignoring him, he couldn't find a single person to help him out.
Even though he had had a good upbringing, he eventually reached his breaking point. He ultimately managed to find an excuse to run off and tearfully plead to his mother.
Shi Yue found it a very amusing story, bursting into laughter and clapping her hands. "Good! Good! A beautiful job! These jobs are all things we servants normally do, and he's come to be a servant student. Even if he goes and tells the lady, we still have an excuse."
"I don't think so," Tang Jie sighed. "In my view, not only was it not beautiful, it was sorely lacking."
"Eh? Why is that?" Shi Yue was confused.
Tang Jie replied, "We do things normally because we have a goal. If it's difficult to realize this goal, we often have to resort to roundabout methods, and it's easy to forget our original goal while using these methods. The treatment of Young Master Ji is truthfully a manifestation of this illness. Although Ji Ziqian was taught a harsh lesson today, thus venting the anger of the servants, was our goal to teach him a lesson?"
Shi Yue was dumbfounded as Tang Jie grimly continued, "It was to drive him out! All the plans and methods should be as closely linked to the goal as possible. If we can't reach the goal, then the effect will be the opposite of what we wanted."
In order to ensure that he was clean, Tang Jie had not appeared, controlling everything from the shadows. But this meant that he hadn't been able to give Shi Mo and the others a specific plan, nor could he give timely instructions.
This was the disadvantage of controlling things from behind the curtain. He could point the way, but it was very difficult for him to interfere in the execution. This would rely solely on the skill of the executors.
In the morning, Shi Mo had once more committed the error of losing sight of his goals. Alas, though Tang Jie had been able to see it all, he could offer no advice.
It was only when Shi Yue arrived that Tang Jie finally had a choice to talk about it. He wanted to borrow Shi Yue's mouth to correct the errors of those little scoundrels.
Shi Yue was taken in by these words, saying, "But hasn't that Young Master Ji already left in a huff?"
"He left in a huff today, but he'll come back," Tang Jie profoundly said.
Shi Yue's mouth opened. "You're saying… they won't truly leave?"
"How could they give up that easily?" Tang Jie casually said. "Once they come back, it won't be so easy."
Ji Ziqian had fallen for the trap because he had not expected the Wei Clan to be so hostile to him. This was tantamount to being struck with a blackjack on entry.
It was hard to blame him. While Ji Ziqian was trained in courtesy and etiquette, that was just upbringing. It had nothing to do with understanding other people.
If he truly had to consider the problems of others from their perspective… Even an adult, someone who was well-acquainted with the ways of the world, might not be able to do this.
But after this incident, Ji Ziqian was on his guard, and it would no longer be easy to entrap him.
Regardless, he was still Wei Tianchong's cousin, and he was afforded more space than most to turn things around.
When it came to opponents like this, if they weren't killed in one blow, they would turn around and bite back.
This was why Tang Jie felt so troubled. Alas, he could not give instructions, so he was like the clever housewife who still had to worry about having no rice to cook. He had all these resources available to him, but he couldn't use them in the open. For many things, he could only sit by helplessly and watch.
Even Shi Yue felt a headache from his words. "That's a big problem, then. Given the madame's temper, she'll definitely go on a rampage. All of you might be doomed."
"A rampage?" Tang Jie was taken aback. After some thought, he asked, "You're saying that the madame will come over to the Meditation Garden to cause trouble?"
"Of course!" Shi Yue replied. "The madame is known for her foul temper. Before she was married, she would often beat and curse at the servants. Once she was married, her temper only slightly improved, but it's still not great. While she seems polite now, that's only because she's seeking something from the Wei Clan. Once she finds out her son has been humiliated, she'll definitely come by to start a ruckus."
"You weren't even born when the madame was married off. How do you know all this?"
"That's what all the elders in the estate say. And I've also gotten close with her maid, Ning Cui, in the last few days."
"I see… Do the stewards also know of this?"
He dropped his head and began to think, and a smile formed on his lips.
He chortled, "Good, very good! I was wondering why these kids were so bold and were acting so brainless, why it felt like there was another show to come. An excellent interlocking plan crafted specifically for the target… It should be those fellows who planned everything out. Haha, truly, old ginger is hotter than new. It seems that I've learned something new this time!"
"What do you mean?" Shi Yue was confused.
"It's nothing," Tang Jie replied. "A rampage is a good thing. I'm actually more worried that she won't… Right, there's something that I might have to trouble Elder Sister Shi Yue with."
"What are you saying? Don't call me 'Elder Sister' in the future. It's not like I'm older than you. You can just call me by name. If you need something, I'll definitely help you if I can…"
"Wei Tianchong, you little rabbit babe, come out!"
Wei Lanxin had arrived at the Meditation Garden with her child in tow, fuming with rage. Even before entering, she was already angrily gesturing at the house and cursing.
Wei Tianchong peeked through the window, saw his aunt, and immediately drew back his head in fear.
Seeing that Wei Tianchong wasn't coming, Wei Lanxin tried to go inside, but Shi Mo stepped forward to block her way, shouting, "Madame, this is the young master's study. You have not been permitted…"
"Scram!" Wei Lanxin slapped Shi Mo. "You were the one who bullied my son, right? I'll come and settle accounts with you soon!"
Saying this, she charged into the house.
The moment she charged in, she heard the shattering of porcelain, and the shards of a flower vase appeared at her feet. Wei Lanxin was startled, but she thought little about why there was a vase placed next to the door, and charged up to Wei Tianchong. The young master saw that the situation was bad and turned to run. Meanwhile, Shi Meng came up to block her path, even holding a chair in his hands.
Wei Lanxin straightened her back and said, "You would dare to strike at me?"
Shi Meng shivered, but in the end, he did not dare to strike, and put down the chair.
Wei Lanxin grabbed the chair and threw it.
Shi Meng ducked, and the chair brushed past his head and smashed into a painting in the middle of the hall, punching a hole in it. The back of the chair bumped against Wei Tianchong's head, causing him to howl in pain, and when he went to feel his head, his hand came back with blood.
Wei Lanxin was about to give chase when Shi Mo lunged out and grabbed her leg while shouting, "Young Master, run!"
Wei Tianchong displayed a rare moment of agility as he made a flying leap through the window. Wei Lanxin wanted to chase, but Shi Mo continued to hold on. Seeing that the kid had run, she helplessly raged and started to curse, "Wei Tianchong, you heartless scoundrel! How could you treat your cousin like this? Is my fate so bitter that only a few years after I left my home, everyone is bullying me!?"
Wei Tianchong saw that his aunt wasn't chasing him, and her lament caused him to feel apologetic, so he stopped and turned around. He muttered, "I… I didn't do anything… I just had my servants teach him the rules…"
"He's your cousin! How could you have him do the work of a servant!?" Wei Lanxin shouted back.
Wei Tianchong grew angry and began to yell. "But he came to be a servant student, so he's a servant."
Wei Lanxin was taken aback by these words, and then she began to weep. "You… you actually have the nerve to say such words! I took care of you when you were little! Do you know how well I treated you back then? I took you out every day to play, and you were always saying you wanted to come with your second aunt. I even cleaned up after your poop and pee! I raised you, and this is how you treat me? Do you even have a heart…"
Wei Tianchong's face alternated between red and white at this scolding. He had no memory of his younger years, so he really didn't know how to respond.
When Shi Mo saw that she was no longer chasing, he released his grip and ran over to Wei Tianchong's side.
Wei Lanxin was still lamenting her fate and just went on and on, talking about how she had taken care of Wei Tianchong in various ways. It was like she had been the real one who had raised Wei Tianchong.
Everyone in the Meditation Garden ran over to see what was going on, but when they saw that it was the madame, none of them dared to say a word. They simply watched as Wei Lanxin performed her monologue.
Her son Ji Ziqian felt incredibly ashamed as he watched. Trying to stop it, he said, "Mom, just forget it."
But Wei Lanxin pushed aside her son's hand and shouted, "This is none of your business!"
She pointed at Wei Tianchong and continued to curse, but her words became simple and repetitive, even repeating the same stories she had told just moments ago.
As Tang Jie watched, he inwardly laughed. As she was cursing, he saw Shi Yue appear in the distance and give him a nod.
Tang Jie rushed up to Wei Tianchong's side and said, "Young Master, we had best resolve this matter quickly. I saw Shi Yue just now. It seems that this matter has alarmed the lady and she is on her way now."
"What?" Wei Tianchong jumped in fright.
Shi Mo's eyes flashed. He knew that the moment he had been waiting for had come.
He hastily said, "Madame, these words are not correct. When the young master was born, you had already been married off to the Ji Clan, so how could you have cared for the young master every day? And even clean up after his poop and pee? The Wei Clan's young masters do not require the personal attendance of the ladies, with even the milk being provided by wet nurses. Otherwise, what would we servants have to do? I would venture to say that you only came to the Wei Estate once and gave the young master a few candies. You didn't think of this as some heavenly gift, did you?"
Everyone laughed at these words, finding Wei Lanxin's words to truly be absurd.
"You!" Wei Lanxin was so angry that she sat down on the ground. "Upside down! The world has turned upside down! Do all the slaves of the Wei Clan speak like this? Do the rules still exist? Does anyone teach you? A bunch of heartless scoundrels! This Zheng Shufeng can't even teach her son and servants properly. How can she manage the Wei Clan? Truly, when the upper beam isn't straight, the lower beam will be crooked! This Wei Clan is rotten from top to bottom, everyone filthy and disgusting!"
As she freely cursed and rebuked, a voice rang out in the distance. "Goodness! What did Shufeng do to offend my younger sister, that she would slander me behind my back like so?"
Wei Lanxin turned in alarm to see Zheng Shufeng emerging from the distance. At her side were two other people: the Wei Clan's venerable master and venerable lady.
Wei Lanxin paled as the venerable master slammed down his dragon-headed cane and harrumphed, "Endless weeping, beating and chasing, shouting abuse like the wife of some fishmonger, badmouthing your own family without any restraint—is this how you were taught? You have thrown away all of the Wei Clan's dignity!"
The venerable lady sighed, "'Filthy and disgusting'… Lanxin, you are still a daughter of the Wei Clan. How could you say this?"
Wei Lanxin panicked. "Dad, Mom, I wasn't talking about you… I was just so angry that I misspoke…"
Zheng Shufeng sneered, "Younger Sister misspoke in a moment of anger, and since we are family, we will not quibble over this point. But why did you run over to the Meditation Garden to throw a tantrum?"
"I just came to reason things out with Chong'er…"
"Reasoning things out involves destroying the pine-plum vase I bought for Chong'er? Reasoning things out requires destroying my painting? Reasoning things out requires you to strike my son on the head?"
Though Zheng Shufeng had just arrived, she could see at a glance the state of the Meditation Garden.
This was no different from a bandit pillaging a village!
She had personally selected and arranged everything in her son's house. All of these were exquisite items that had been arranged so as to provide a sense of grandeur and nobility, and what state was it in now?
The sight caused Zheng Shufeng's heart to ache.
As a very economical woman, she felt an even greater heartache than the pain she had felt from Wei Lanxin's slander.
She inwardly fumed, and though her voice was not raised, her tone was as cold as the edge of a saber. The wound to her son had particularly provoked her ire.
Wei Lanxin still refused to yield. "But your son bullied my son first!"
Zheng Shufeng suppressed her rage and said, "I already know of what happened. While it was somewhat callous for Chong'er to order him around, the argument was sound. Moreover, over the last few days, quite a few people have come to complain to us, saying that if Ziqian came to be a servant student but refuses to do the work, when the time comes to enter school, it will be one servant serving two masters. Putting aside the difficulty of serving two masters with sufficient care, that single servant student will have a hard time cultivating, so in the future, if he succeeds or fails, he will hold a grudge. The Wei Clan will have paid all his expenses but will have failed to receive the expected reward…"
Saying this, Zheng Shufeng sighed. "Even the Immortals established the academies to get on good terms with the mortals, opening for them the door to Immortality, so how could our Wei Clan so easily disregard the desire of our servants to enter the academy? This is why we approved of Ziqian learning the rules and taking a share of the work. Alas…"
She shook her head.
The price offered was extremely low, and now he wasn't even willing to do the work. Let alone Zheng Shufeng, even the venerable master and venerable lady could not bear to keep watching.
The venerable master slowly said, "This isn't right. In the end, it's not right. This matter… I think we should forget about it."
These words were like a bolt of lightning crashing into Wei Lanxin's head, and she finally sobered up.
Wei Lanxin begged the venerable master, "Dad, putting aside anything else, Ziqian is still your great-nephew! You can't not give him a chance!"
The venerable lady snorted. "Ziqian is our great-nephew, but Chong'er is our grandson. Since the two of them can't get along, we have to choose one. Or are you saying that we should give up on our Wei surname and choose another clan? Besides, since our Wei Clan can't teach our children properly, take this great-nephew of ours back and teach him yourself!"
The venerable lady was rather petty and was in no mood to forgive Wei Lanxin for what she had said.
Wei Lanxin's body went limp as she collapsed to the ground.