Chapter 42: Fog

“Father, Old Mrs. Gu of the Gu Family dragged us behind, but what is the meaning of what she said? I can’t understand the meaning at all.”

Soon after witnessing the completion of the separation ceremony, Tao Cheng and Tao Muxian were immediately called over by Old Lady Gu, and after chatting with her for a long time, Tao Muxian couldn’t help but scratch his head and asked.

Tao Xinhe had already left first, and both father and son had already politely refused Gu Ningxi’s offer to arrange a dinner for them. They walked slowly along the road outside the new Gu Mansion, waiting for Tao Xinhe to finally arrive at the Tao Manor so they could have their carriage turned around to pick them up.

Tao Cheng slandered in his heart,

‘Did he understand?’

The other party is of high seniority, he thought of her deceased husband, the old Prime Minister Gu, as a good official, and how he was still able to communicate well with him in the past.

Unexpectedly, when he was caught by Old Mrs. Gu, although he was still able to answer her questions coherently, he was actually so confused that he didn’t even understand what and why he answered. He was also so hungry that he couldn’t bear it.

However, he couldn’t show his timidity in front of his son, so Tao Cheng said “Mmmm” a few times, and said,

“Women of noble families are used to playing riddles. Let’s go back and ask He Niang to make sure. At least you were able to pretend and behave well, even though He Niang had complained about the old lady Gu, saying she was cold and always made things difficult for her. You still kept mum the entire time with your mouth clamped tightly. You didn’t even dare to say a single word. Aren’t you ashamed that you let your old man take all the blame?”

Tao Muxian plausibly said,

“Before I came to the Gu’s Mansion today, my sister warned me a thousand times. She told me to behave and focus on making sure that the separation will go smoothly. After all, starting today, we will have nothing to do with the people in the Gu family, so we can’t be impulsive and accuse them of anything. I only acted according to my sister’s words. Anyways, father, tell me, how is my sister feeling now?”

“Well she seemed free, at ease, and happy. Your sister did what your father wanted to do before but didn’t do, and she doesn’t have children to drag her as well, so her mood is naturally excellent. We should congratulate her with clear understanding.”

Tao Muxian stammered twice, and softly mentioned,

“Father, do you think Gu Sicheng looks a little pitiful? The long, deep, bloody cut on the top of his head is only a fraction of a centimeter away from the corner of his eye. What if it hurts his eye? I heard that Old Mrs. Gu smashed it out on him. I can’t believe that such an amiable looking old lady could secretly lay such a cruel hand on her own grandson.”

There was a “Gurgling” sound in his abdomen, Tao Cheng pressed his stomach hard a few times. He then focused his attention on the food stalls in the night market not far away, and casually said,

“It’s their family’s business, so don’t worry about them. But I heard that his third grandson is the most doted on by his grandmother, and Gu Ningxi’s treatment is inferior to him.”

Tao Muxian called his “Father” three times, but he wasn’t able to stop Tao Cheng from turning around at the fork in the road to look for food. He resigned himself to taking the four people behind him. The servants immediately followed, and continued,

“Father is talking about Gu Ningran, the editor of the Imperial Academy, right? I’ve seen him before. He has good facial features, a bit similar to Gu Sicheng, but his personal morals are extremely poor, and the look in his eyes seemed wrong. I heard that he would always take on wives and concubines. He’s a completely different person from Gu Sicheng.”

He didn’t know if Tao Cheng heard it or he was too lazy to talk to his son, but he found a noodle shop with a thriving business and went in to find a table and order some noodles. He then sat down, drew some chopsticks, and drank soup, very smooth.

What can Tao Muxian do?

Although he wanted to see his sister and wife immediately, he still had to stay with his father, and accompany him.

Tao Muxian sat at the simple table, knocking on the corner of the table, and chattered endlessly,

“Who would have thought that Gu Sicheng’s eyes were as crooked as his cousin’s. If he was influenced badly, what kind of concubine would he take? It even made my sister sad. I observed everyone’s reaction and they were all dumbfounded. What do you think, father? Also, I looked closely, and I felt that he seemed to be reluctant to part with my sister, and his feelings were the same as before. In the end, the two still divorced and separated, alas~”

Tao Cheng who was “Slurping” continued to eat several chopsticks of hot and slender noodle soup before he had time to talk to his son,

“We are all outsiders, and they naturally know more about what’s going on in their marriage. What about your sister? No matter what decision she makes, we will stand beside her without saying a word. Let’s Just accompany her to protect her. As for Gu Ningxi’s thoughts, your sister must know better than us, so why bother guessing? Besides, I don’t think she cares anymore, so let it be.”

Tao Cheng said, thinking that from tomorrow onwards, he had to go to the court during the day, to sit on duty. His son would also return to the academy to study behind closed doors. The Tao Manor is a large residence, and there will only be a few female family members left at home.

Qiangniang is delicate and ignorant, she was unlike her eldest daughter at that age, so he told his son to ask his wife to spend more time with his eldest daughter to get through this period, and Tao Muxian nodded and said nothing.

After Tao Xinhe returned home, she ordered the coachman to turn around to pick up her father and younger brother. She then went to her younger brother’s yard, and came over to the bedridden Lady Hong, and said with a smile,

“Father and younger brother are stuck for a while, I’ll wait for them before I have my meal.”

Lady Hong observed her elder sister-in-law’s expression. She was seemingly brisk, and hesitant to ask about the result. Things like separation is something that she would never think about in her life.

Especially since her ex-brother-in-law only made a small mistake.

After all, what’s wrong with taking concubines?

Even her own husband, Muxian, would probably take concubines in the future.

So why did they have to separate because of such a trivial matter?

Until the whole family went to the Gu Mansion to go through the process, Lady Hong still felt in a daze, was she simply throwing a tantrum?

What Tao Xinhe talked about with her were just routine words, without mentioning a word about her divorce,

“It’s Little sister-law’s first pregnancy, so you must not endure hunger and starvation. You should eat first and don’t worry about us. Don’t get up, just stay in bed and rest. There is no need to make any fuss about unnecessary things. I only came here to check on you, I’m going back to my courtyard now.”

Under the service of the maid, Lady Hong tucked a big pillow behind her back, half lying and half sitting, while gently pulling Tao Xinhe’s cuff, shook it twice, and asked in a whisper,

“Eldest sister, are you really divorced?”

Tao Xinhe was caught off guard, Lady Hong took her sleeve and rubbed her wrist. And that skin, which she rubbed vigorously not long ago, almost broke off, it was reddish and sensitive.

Under the stinging pain, she let out a soft “Hiss“.

Oh, of course the reason for the separation was all thanks to Gu Ningxi. She still wants to go back to her room to wash her wrists. So Tao Xinhe sighed in her heart.

Looking up, she saw that Lady Hong immediately let go, and she even wanted to lean over to see what was wrong with her wrist. She hid her bare hands behind her back and comforted her,

“I’m fine. It’s true that the divorce is finally over. I’m going back to live in the Tao Manor from now on.”

Lady Hong was silent for a while. She then ordered the servant girl to bring the trauma ointment, and asked her eldest sister-in-law to accept it, and sincerely asked Tao Xinhe to take over the household management work back for the sake of her unstable pregnancy.

Tao Xinhe hesitated for a moment, swallowed the statement that she wanted to find another house after February, and agreed for the time being. She then turned and left, went back to her room for a rest. Her mind happened to flash over the recent events.

When the Tao father and son came back, Tao Cheng told them that he was already full, and the siblings could have dinner together instead.

Seeing his elder sister insisting on “Eating without talking, and sleeping without talking” and just focused on her food, Tao Muxian felt a little awkward, even if his sister’s food was sweet and delicious, but her face was expressionless, as if the food she was eating was tasteless, but she still ate a lot of it. Which doesn’t seem right.

He hesitated to speak for a while, until after the meal was finished and he rinsed his mouth with tea, Tao Muxian hesitantly said,

“Before leaving, Gu Sicheng came to me and said some strange words.”

Tao Xinhe exhaled slowly after feeling her stomach pouch straining her.

She was annoyed that she was stuck in a trance, now she felt full after eating.

After hearing her brother’s words, she responded lightly,

“Since he went looking for you, there’s no need to talk to me about it. You’re going to the academy tomorrow, have you packed up your things? You have nothing to do at night, so talk to your wife more, and give her peace of mind.”

‘I’m worried about your sister’s safety, especially as a woman, so you need to take more precautions. Muxian, please pay attention and add a housekeeper in the mansion.’

This is what the haggard and lonely ex-brother-in-law, under the guidance of his servants, told him privately. Tao Muxian had no choice but to remember the solemn words of exhortation.

Since his sister doesn’t want to listen, he’ll just arrange it himself.

Tao Muxian thought the mansion has always been safe, but there is nothing wrong with being careful. For a family with children and dependents, there is no harm in adding more people.

The number of servants in the family is not a lot, where should he recruit some reliable and brave men?

Tao Muxian suddenly thought of Cheng Jia who he had met recently. He was a low-grade military general and was almost the same age as him. He seemed to have a good temper.

Should he ask him to help introduce some people?

Tao Xinhe saw her younger brother lost in thought, and nodded her shoulders with a smile,

“What are you thinking about? Today is a busy day, so I will not see you off, and you don’t need to see me off as well. Let’s go back to our own courtyard separately.”

“Sister, go slowly, sleep soundly and have a good rest!”

Tao Muxian yelled behind her.

Tao Xinhe, who blended into the dark night, didn’t look back, but waved her hands backwards.

After returning to the room, she couldn’t sleep as she wished. She had nightmares all night,

The words, ‘Brother Mo passed away.’ came to her ears from time to time.

She was so angry that she got up before dawn, sat in front of the dressing table, and used duck egg powder to cover the faint dark circles under her eyes.

She kept saying to herself that the Gu family affairs have nothing to do with her anymore, let alone the Mo family!

After tidying up her appearance, she sent her father and younger brother off in person, and was entrusted by her younger brother to take good care of his wife, so she had no choice but to do her part, arrange daily housework, take care of the pregnant Lady Hong, and send someone to pick up Qiangniang.

On the ninth night of the first lunar month, Gu Ningxi ate dinner with the elders who stayed behind together with him. He kept silent and didn’t bother to respond to all kinds of sour words coming from his third uncle and the third aunt.

After the meal, Old Mrs. Gu sent her most beloved youngest son back to the old Gu’s mansion first. While she told Gu Ningxi in a cryptic way,

“I have made an agreement with Tao Yuanwailang, once you marry another lady, their Tao family will be happy for you. Brother Xi, this time, grandma will pick one for you carefully, and it will definitely be a hundred times better than He Niang.”

The grandmother didn’t know who told her that the wound would heal faster when exposed to the air. She decided to take off the white gauze off Gu Ningxi’s face. Her pampered delicate fingers rubbed around Gu Ningxi’s bloodstained forehead.

After hearing this, Gu Ningxi felt powerless.

He gently grabbed his grandmother’s hand, took it from his face, wrapped it in his palm, and expressed his attitude in the most sincere tone,

“Grandma, thank you for the trouble but I have no intention of marrying someone else. In the future, If my wife is willing, she can come back to be my wife at any time, if… If she doesn’t want to, I will have to live without a wife for the rest of my life.”

Old Mrs. Gu stood up abruptly, stared at Gu Ningxi, her tone changed sharply,

“Nonsense! You don’t want to be married? An hour ago, you just divorced! Brother Xi, you have to look ahead. What does it mean to be without a wife for life? Do you want to spend your whole life with some concubine surnamed Mo who was just taken out of nowhere? Are you in love with the daughter of the Tao family? Or is it that you are fascinated by that vixen Mo?”

Gu Ningxi then stood up straight, restrained his hands, bowed his head and said,

“The girl from the Mo family that grandma mentioned was originally my righteous sister, and taking her as a concubine was a last resort. It’s just protecting and compensating an orphaned girl, there is absolutely no other intention.”

“You’re full of nonsense. Brother Xi, if you tell a hundred people in the world what you say, a hundred people will not believe it. Is a concubine something you can take in for shelter? Didn’t your grandfather teach you this truth? Or did your father tell you differently?”

Old Mrs. Gu discovered at this time that there was a huge deviation in her grandson’s thinking.

In order to get him married as soon as possible and have him agree to take a new granddaughter-in-law, she tried her best to explain the truth,

“Wives are all important, but concubines are nothing much. They are almost like servants, and sometimes they can be bought and sold. Does brother Xi still need your grandmother to tell you these common senses?”

That’s right, is it really good for Mo Qiqi to downgrade herself into a humble concubine status from a Juren’s younger sister? And have her become dependent on her master and mistress without any personal freedom?

Is it protection or negligence?

After listening to his grandmother’s teachings, Gu Ningxi seemed to have cleared the fog that was blocking his mind and saw a dark and dangerous boulder ahead.

He was blind and was riding a blind horse and was pushing Mo Qiqi closer to a dead end, and she was about to hit her head and bleed.

“A concubine is just a plaything, but you went to separate with your wife because you wanted to take a concubine. You made a big mistake because of a small loss, and you used evil to harm the good. You can’t even clear up the difference between wives and concubines. You really disappointed your grandmother. You really need to marry someone sooner. Have a lady from a noble family enter the door, unlike the daughter from the Tao family who comes and goes on her own will, restrain your heart and leave it behind.”

Old Mrs. Gu got angry and brought up the matter of her grandson remarrying.

Gu Ningxi murmured, “That’s right, He Niang let me do what I want too much and spoiled me too much.”

The epiphany came to him urgently and intensely, the mistake of taking a concubine was a sign, but the root cause was that he hadn’t considered his wife’s feelings for a long time, he only forced his own will on her. He was like a spoiled three-year-old child, naive and cruel.

He had nothing to say, he just felt even more heartbroken.