Chapter 14: A wise man looks after his own hide


 

Qi Shan walked to the stairs in the corridor and took off his bamboo hat.
He bent down to take off the wooden clogs and neatly lined them up side by side.
He lifted the hem of his clothes and stepped on the steps with his bare feet.
Next, he took off the water ladle hanging on the wooden post, scooped up some rainwater from the stone basin under the porch and washed away the mud on his feet.

 

Shen Tang also took off her wooden clogs and subconsciously went to look for indoor shoes.
She looked around, but couldn’t find them.
Qi Shan rolled up the dirty clothes and tied them around his legs, he took out the customized handkerchief from his sleeve to wipe his feet, before giving the ladle to Shen Tang.

 

They weren’t slow, but the middle-aged man already took off his ill-fitting shoes with tore soles and barefoot went up the wooden stairs, leaving the water footprints behind—although the courtyard was almost squeaky-clean and a few places were paved with gravel, but the muddy puddles still accumulated.
It was easy to get your feet dirty—Seeing the two busying themselves, the man laughed out loud.

 

“The two of you can do whatever you want, no need to bother”.

 

After hearing this, Shen Tang rinsed her feet and threw the ladle into the stone basin.
She stepped loudly on the wooden stairs.

 

Qi Shan spoke strictly. 

 

“You Li, your etiquette?” 

 

Shen Tang laughed while beckoning: “Didn’t he say we can do what we want? Elder brother, you are too polite.
What are you doing, still not coming here to hide from the rain?” 

 

Qi Shan took a deep breath.
Apparently, he helplessly took in Shen Tang’s actions and turned around to apologize to the middle-age man.
The middle-age man was quite a conservative person.
He kept smiling, and repeating “it’s nothing”.
He didn't show any discomfort on his face, instead he praised Shen Tang's true temperament and liveliness.

 

Qi Shan sighed: “But my younger brother will be 12 this year, and he’s still so unsteady.
I’m worried that he will suffer a big loss in the future…” 

 

The middle-age man face froze slightly. 


 

“Younger brother? Is this a young master?”

 

Qi Shan nodded: “Yes, younger brother.
He’s similar to mother and because of his androgynous appearance, he has caused many misunderstandings over the years”. 

 

The middle-age man sneered twice, saying that he had made a mistake.
He unexpectedly mistook the boy for the beautiful girl.

 

While saying that, he took two guests to their room.
He let them stay there.
If the rain continues, they could also stay there for another night.

 

The middle-age man suddenly said: “I just recalled, the warm ginger soup was left in the east kitchen.
Do you want some to warm up?”

 

Qi Shan saluted in thanks.

 

The man said: “Wait for a moment”. 

 

Along with the gradually receding sound of the footsteps, Shen Tang put away her frivolous smile.
Her expression turned solemn and grave: “He’s lying, his weak points are visible all over his body.
No matter if he went to the east kitchen for the soup or not, we have to be careful”. 

 

Qi Shan: “Naturally, we have to be alert.
The village official said Ayan has a brain disease, and was abandoned from the moment he was born.
No one cares about him.
The servants were always very negligent, which can also be seen from his clothes hanging in the yard.
But this person said that Ayan was his son, ah!”.

 

Shen Tang strolled indoors, from time to time she touched some items inside the room.
Her fingers remained clean without any dust. 

 

There were two neatly arranged desks near the leaking window, one large and one small.
The bookshelves were used as partitions to divide the room into several areas.
Shen Tang casually picked up the bamboo slips on the table and opened it.
She found out that they were for children's education.
There were both adult handwriting and children's scribble on it.

 


She said: “They cleaned the room nicely.
It seems that the servants are not totally lazing around… unexpectedly, no came to this thatched cottage that could fly away in this heavy rain and wind to collect the clothes.
This is unreasonable”. 

 

Qi Shan calmly said: “Furthermore, the man that was impersonating the scholar looked a bit ferocious.
His gaze was cruel, and he had the bloody smell on his body.
It is irresponsible to say that scholars resemble an uncivilized people that are full of lies—It’s not that I don’t want to accept it, but I’m worried that I can’t…”. 

 

In other words, he had no way to believe it.

 

Shen Tang raised her brow: “Is he a bandit?” 

 

Qi Shan supposed: “The current political situation is turbulent, so it is not impossible.
It is not rare for people to become bandits and rob houses.

 

It’s not only not rare, but has even become the only one source of money for some people.
Furthermore, it could also help the village to “get rich”.

 

“That's an inauspicious thing to say”. 

 

“Most likely there will be no survivors.
It’s also possible that they’re the thieves, but in any case they’re not the masters of this manor”.

 

They were looking for Ayan, but didn’t find him, and instead they met with this terrible case. 

 

Shen Tang took a deep breath. 

 

Qi Shan found it funny: “Young master Shen, are you afraid?” 

 

Even he didn’t believe in the words he just said.


 

Shen Tang sat on a cushion and blinked: “I’m just a good person, carrying out the official duties and observing the law.
They probably are black-hearted terrible killers, how can I not be afraid? Mister Qi, we are inside the wolves' den, and we are the dinner for this hungry animals…” 

 

While saying, she fished out the knife from her waist. 

 

The middle-aged man did not notice this thin knife inside her clothes. 

 

Qi Shan didn’t take out his sword.
The two people could only rely on this wooden knife.
She had the feeling of safety, when clenching on the shaft of this knife.
In fact, she was unable to understand why she—a painter who felt the best being at home had to go through such unnerving things?

 

Although– 

 

Although she killed one official, in retrospect she still calmly accepted the reality, because she thought this was reasonable self-defense.
Due to the remaining factors of this body and the fact that she wasn’t strong enough, she had to become such a fierce and cold-blooded person at that moment.

 

She was a friendly person. 

 

After all, under the urges and roaring of her editor, how could she still not dare to say something? How could this kind of painter have bad intentions? 

 

Qi Shan “…”

 

“We entered the wolves' den, but who is the hungry wolf and who is having dinner is still unknown”.
When he repeated the phrase “follow the public and abide by the law” his expression turned apathetic, he impolitely tore down her mask, and smiled: “Good citizens who obey the public and abide by the law can’t be fugitives.”

 

Who knew Shen Tang would say: “Mister Qi, might not know, but I was wronged.
If I died on the road to exile or in the brothel of Xiao city, someday the incorruptible official would reverse this verdict and prove my innocence.
However, at this time I would be already dead, and leave only regrets behind.
In order not to let this scene come true, and to defend the justice of the law, I had to save my life.
It is reasonable in my case to be a fugitive“. 


 

Qi Shan “…” 

 

He looked at young master Shen speaking with such assurance and sighed with sorrow, that his face wasn’t as thick as this boy's face.

 

Just as he was about to say something, the smile on Shen Tang's face suddenly disappeared.
She straightened up and looked towards the door.
She raised her hand to her lips, hinting Qi Shan to stay silent.
After a moment, the heavy footsteps neared, the middle-aged man came over with two bowls of steaming ginger soup.

 

“You were waiting for a long time”.

 

Qi Shan and Shen Tang nodded in gratitude. 

 

Under the watch of the middle-aged man, the two of them clasped the bowls and were about to start drinking the soup. 

 

The two of them seemed to not have set up any defense against him, the middle-aged man was overjoyed.
However, when he was about to reveal his sneer, a bowl of steaming ginger soup came pouring down in the next second.
Immediately after, the low table was sent flying, and it smashed towards the front door.

 

Qi Shan splashed the soup, Shen Tang sent the table flying. 

 

After that – 

 

Qi Shan quietly retreated behind Shen Tang.
He said calmly: “Know the male, protect the female, retreat if you can’t do something, this is the principle of a ‘wise man looks after his own hide’”. 

 

Shen Tang “???”

 

Shen Tang “!!!”

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