“Father.” After returning to the backyard of the Yamen, Tao Yi met Tao Feng.
“How is it going? What did Ling Zhang say?” Tao Feng asked.
Tao Yi briefly recounted the conversation between him and Ling Zhang. In the end, he concluded, “I don’t think that Ling Zhang is simple, and he is a careful speaker who is very independent. It is different from the rumors that Ling Zhang is gentle to the point of being weak. Either he had been playing dumb, or he was cornered by what happened in Jia family this time.”
“Which do you think it is?” Tao Feng asked.
Tao Yi thought for a moment, “If Ling Zhang is the same as the one in the rumors, even if he is cornered, he will only point at Jia Yuanling’s nose to curse, and finally sever the relationship with Jia Yuanling. But he acted vigorously and speedily today, and he set the traps when talking and doing everything. He sent Jia Yuanling to the prison step by step, and even forced Zhang Chong to abandon Jia Yuanling because of today’s situation. So, I tend to the first reason that his being gentle and weak is just an illusion.”
“Then why did he suddenly expose himself?” Tao Feng asked again.
“Apart from the fact that Jia Yuanling really irritated him, I think he also realized the dangerous situation of Ling family. The conversation just now showed that he understood exactly what Ling family’s situation is now, so he can no longer hide his true nature,” Tao Yi answered.
After answering it, Tao Yi appeared to be somewhat confused, “I just don’t understand why Ling Zhang pretended to be gentle and weak?”
Tao Feng was also thinking about it, “This is also what makes me puzzled. Although Ling family lost a lot power after Ling Zhaowu’s disappearance, Ling Zhaowen has taken the position of right Tongzhi through his hard work. And if Jia family didn’t play up to Zhang Chong, it would be an ordinary despotic gentry family that cannot compete with Ling family – a family of public officials for generations. The previous Jia family was not a threat to Ling family. And it also doesn’t make sense saying that they feared Zhang Chong; at least before what happened today, there was no sign that Zhang Chong would do something to harm Ling family. Besides, this is not necessarily related to whether Ling Zhang has pretended to be weak or not.”
“Father, I have a question. How did Ling family block Jia family’s or Zhang Chong’s way?” Tao Yi asked.
Tao Feng explained to him, “You are in the capital all the year round, so you don’t know the mobilization of some officials in Tanyang. Jia Yin’s younger brother, Jia Zhong, once wanted to get the right Tongzhi position. But, finally, Ling Zhaowen got the position.”
Tao Yi frowned, “Jia Zhong? All Tan Yang’s people know clearly how Jia Zhong got the position of Xianling. How dare he want the position of right Tongzhi?”
T/N: Xianling, a seventh ranked official, lower than Tongzhi.
“Of course, he dared not do it before Jia family played up to Zhang Chong. But after successfully associating with Zhang Chong, Jia Zhong wanted to rely on Zhang Chong, the backer, to get the position. Your father, of course, would not allow Zhang Chong to extend his power to the prefecture Yamen. And it happened that Ling Zhaowen was the most suitable candidate at that time, so I got in first and blocked the way of Jia Yin. Although Jia family didn’t exhibit any displeasure apparently, they actually hated Ling family because of it. Zhang Chong has always wanted to extend his power to Yamen, and of course it became their common purpose to deal with Ling family,” Tao Feng said.
Tao Yi was angry after hearing it, “It is Zhang Chong who is behind the stunt.”
“Ling Zhang also said just now that if only the imperial court could dispatch massive forces to destroy the serious banditry. That is also my wish. Father, should we just watch Zhang Chong tyrannically abuse his power? You still have to stay in the position of Zhizhou for six years. So you have to take insults from him in the following six years? Why... Why don’t you present a memorial report again to beg our emperor...”
Tao Feng interrupted Tao Yi’s words, “It’s useless. I have presented memorials for many times these years, but our emperor turns a blind eye to this.”
“I don’t understand,” Tao Yi frowned.
Tao Feng shook his head, “I have made you stay in the capital for a long time to learn about the situation. Haven’t you seen clearly about it yet?”
“Please tell me, father.” Tao Yi said.
Tao Feng poked lightly on his son’s forehead, “You just look smart. It’s not that our emperor doesn’t want to solve these bandits, but the thing is too complicated with too many factors and forces involved. And the most important one is related to Marshal Yuwen.”
“Related to Marshal Yuwen? Why?” Tao Yi was puzzled.
“The banditry around Tanyang has existed for a long time, and their forces are complicated. Besides, they have developed connections to various powers. Destroying the banditry means to change the entire situation in Tanyang and surrounding areas, including Prefecture Guards. This is not just an ordinary destruction of the banditry but a serious matter. We can hardly find someone in the court who has the courage to solve the matter perfectly. It is not because these officials are incompetent but because those behind the banditry are too powerful. Once someone is involved, just like a dragon gets stuck in the mud, he would get in trouble, maybe even ruin himself.”
“Those who have the ability, such as Yuwen Tong, are the last persons that our emperor would send here to deal with banditry.”
“Is it because Marshal Yuwen can’t leave the northwest frontier behind?” Tao Yi asked.
Tao Wei shook his head, “Not really. After ten years, the northwest frontier has been as stable as an iron bucket under Yuwen Tong’s management. As long as he is alive, the northwest can be stable.”
“So, why?” Tao Yi asked.
“Because Yuwen Tong has reached the top of honor. As the Grand Marshal of the Northwest Army, he is the only one in the whole Great Yue. Our emperor ... Emm, in short, our emperor will never allow Yuwen Tong to deal with the matter and turn the entire Tanyang and the surrounding places into another northwest,” Tao Feng said.
Tao Yi suddenly got enlightened and he finally understood what was going on, but the more he understood it, the more unfair he felt.
“Our emperor is gauging the heart of the gentleman with...”
“Stop.” Tao Feng hissed.
Tao Yi shut up unwillingly.
His father would not want him to talk about the emperor. He should be cautious in the capital, and he should also be cautious when he returned to Tanyang.
Not as free as... Right, Ling Zhang.
When he just talked to Ling Zhang about Marshal Yuwen, Ling Zhang listened very seriously. He definitely admired Marshal Yuwen, too. Although he couldn’t tell Ling Zhang everything, it was definitely not a problem to talk about Marshal Yuwen with him.
Ling Zhang, who returned to Ling family with his uncle, did not know that Tao Yi had made some strange conclusions about him arbitrarily. If Ling Zhang knew it, he would be angry to spit blood.
“Zhang’er, tell me every detail about what happened.” Upon returning to Ling family, Ling Zhaowen could not wait to pull his nephew into the study.
When Ling Zhang stepped back into his own home and looked at everything that was familiar to him, his eyes quickly reddened. However, before Ling Zhang got a minute to calm himself, he was pulled into Ling Zhaowen’s study.
Ling Zhaowen’s study was also a familiar place to him. Looking at everything familiar in the study and his uncle’s face with eager care, his eyes reddened more.
Ling Zhaowen was startled, “What’s wrong? Did Jia family do something else to you?”
“It’s outrageous. Twenty years’ banishment for Jia Yuanling is letting him off lightly. It is a waste of your time to treat him as a friend all the time! A fair face may hide a foul heart. He is worse than a beast!”
Ling Zhaowen scolded, nothing like the conservative and composed image he showed outside, and he could not wait to curse even the eighteen generations of Jia family.
Ling Zhang looked at the angry face of his uncle, and all kinds of grievances crept into his mind. He wanted to call “uncle” again, but he found that he couldn’t, because the choked voice would be exposed.
Ling Zhang simply walked over and hugged his uncle like what he did in his childhood.
Ling Zhaowen turned silent like a smothered firecracker, his body getting stiff. He had never been hugged so intimately since his nephew was ten years old.
What kind of grievance could force his own nephew to be like this?
Ling Zhaowen felt distressed and his heart ached for the possible injustice his nephew had suffered. The frozen body gradually relaxed, and he took Ling Zhang tightly in his arms as he comforted Ling Zhang by patting his back like what he did when Ling Zhang was a child, saying in a comforting tone that sounded quite awkward after years of negligence, “Don’t be afraid. Your uncle will kill whoever dares to bully you and let them regret living in this world.”
Ling Zhang blinked his eyes, and secretly wiped the teardrops that accidentally fell out with his uncle’s clothes, tightening his hands around his uncle. Not until quite a moment later did he let go of his uncle.
Ling Zhaowen noticed that his nephew had loosened his hand and he took back his hands too while saying, “Jia family bullied you this time. Even though Jia Yuanling has been sent to the prison, I’m not going to let this go. You can rest assured that uncle will get justice for your grievances!”
Ling Zhang’s heart was slowly moisturized by a burst of warmth. Almost greedily looking at the living uncle, he nodded vigorously, “Thanks!”
The author has something to say:
Tao Yi: Ling Zhang must be a huge fan of Marshal Yuwen!
Ling Zhang: Tao Yi must be a fool.
Uncle Ling: What a lovely day! A warm hug from my dear nephew!
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