Chapter 19: A Matter of Dignity
Translator: Nyoi_Bo_Studio Editor: Nyoi_Bo_Studio
Housekeeper Zhou was somewhat arrogant today for some reason. He forced a fake smile: “Young… Master, regarding the things in the house, the Countess said I’m still in charge.”
Housekeeper Zhou stretched out the title of “young master” intentionally as he said it; his disrespect was obvious.
Smiling, Fan Xian noted the hint of contempt in the housekeeper’s eyes. While he never felt bad for being an illegitimate child, being looked down upon and treated like a bastard were still uncomfortable experiences.
Seeing things going downhill, a certain smart girl went away to find the Countess as the other maidservants only observed nervously. Although on the surface the two houses were connected, everyone knew that Young Master Fan Xian’s background wasn’t all that glorious. Besides, all of the estate’s supplies for living in Danzhou Harbor came from the capital, from the hands of the second wife.
Because he had a close connection with the second wife, the housekeeper dared to show the young master such disrespect. After all, in everyone’s eyes, the one to inherit the grand property of the Sinan branch house would only be that little young master in the capital, not the twelve-year-old youth standing here smiling lovingly.
The servants, as much as they loved and respected Fan Xian, dared not offend the second wife at such a crucial moment. They stood to the other side of Fan Xian.
Only Fan Xian’s personal maidservant tightly held his hand. Fan Xian understood very well what the servants were thinking. Anyone who wanted a better life didn’t exactly have it easy, and therefore would not feel sadness or disappointment. They only tilted their heads, looking at this unhappy Housekeeper Zhou with curiosity, thinking, “He had always been calm, so what finally made him snap?”
Housekeeper Zhou was Count Sinan’s second housekeeper in Jingdu. Because he made some small mistakes in the capital, he was chased far away to the remote Danzhou Harbor. However, Housekeeper Zhou did not believe he had actually departed from the lavishness of the capital, and did not grief over it.
Count Sinan’s head wife had been dead for many years, and his second wife gave birth to a son seven years ago. Because the second wife’s family had some reputation, naturally, she wanted to take advantage of the situation and aim for a proper place. It was during a time like this Housekeeper Zhou arrived in Danzhou. Undoubtedly, he had come with ill intentions.
In order to fulfill his duty, he meticulously managed the Count’s estate and was exceptionally respectful towards the Countess. He was also kind towards the servants and rarely meddled with the private affairs of others. But every time he saw that little mongrel, the one who led to his disguised exile, he couldn’t help but show his true feelings.
No one knew why, but he was a bit afraid of the young boy, despite the latter being only in his early teens.
Because no matter where he went, he could almost always see that boy’s faintly- smiling face and his pair of clear eyes. As neat and pretty as that face was, anyone would feel disturbed if it followed them around constantly from the moment they woke up.
When Housekeeper Zhou kindly greeted the servants, little Fan Xian’s pretty face was hidden among the flowers, staring at the housekeeper blankly; when Housekeeper Zhou scowled over the statements of account, little Fan Xian propped his face up on the windowsill of the accountant chamber, staring at the housekeeper innocently; and when Housekeeper Zhou made his report to the Countess with upmost respect, little Fan Xian rested his face next to the Countess, staring at him with infinite curiosity.
After several months like this, Housekeeper Zhou was almost driven insane. He could see that innocent beautiful face at all times, it was like the face of a ghost floating in white mist. A face that beautiful could only belong to a ghost, a face which stared at him so intensely.
With his psyche almost at its breaking point, he even began to become paranoid. Could that boy know he was sent here to deal with him? But then Housekeeper Zhou thought, “That little mongrel is too young; how could he know the dangers of the adult world? But… why is he always looking at me? Why? Just like now. If I were him, I’d feel humiliation, how could he still smile like that?”
Housekeeper Zhou smiled coldly, thinking: “Thing will be over soon; there is no need for me to get upset over this brat.”
Fan Xian didn’t realize his unscrupulous observation of Housekeeper Zhou would be so taxing on the housekeeper’s psyche. But even if he had known, he wouldn’t feel sorry about it. He was only curious as to what methods this aunt in the capital would deploy to deal with him.
But after seeing Housekeeper Zhou scolding his maidservant to save face, Fan Xian’s expression turned gloomy. After hearing how the housekeeper pronounced “Young Master”, Fan Xian’s smile slowly faded.
“I heard Young Master chased a maidservant out of the house a few years ago; such unruly behavior certainly won’t do.” Housekeeper Zhou continued to talk with disdain, ignoring the youth’s gradually worsening expression. “You are still young; it would be best from now on if you didn’t worry about the things in the house.”
Fan Xian laughed: “Are you warning me to stay put?”
Housekeeper Zhou claimed he wouldn’t dream of it, but his tone was overflowing with arrogance: “Who would dare? It’s just that before coming here, the second wife ordered me to look after you, since you are still of tender age.”
“So then you aren’t afraid of me using my authority as your master to slap that big mouth of yours?” Fan Xian asked, curious.
Housekeeper Zhou chuckled, stroking the sparsely grown beard on his chin. He said: “Young Master… even though you lost your mother as an infant and lacked discipline growing up, everyone knows that you still had the upbringing of a learned scholar. You wouldn’t treat your servants so harshly.”
The housekeeper looked at the beautiful youth before him and laughed to himself on the inside. “A mere child he is; to think he would try to use his authority to threaten me.”
“Oh.” Fan Xian came back to his senses, as if just realizing his identity as an illegitimate child. He turned and left.
The maidservants, while secretly wanting justice for the young master, took a breath of relief since no conflicts had occurred. Sisi held Fan Xian’s hand as her eyes began to tear up. She felt sorry for the young master, but was afraid he would become upset. Only after side eyeing Fan Xian and discovering tranquility in his eyes did she finally come to peace.
Taking Sisi’s hand, Fan Xian led her inside and set up two stools by the door. He made Sisi sit on one of them before making his way into the garden with another stool.
The maidservants had not yet dispersed; Housekeeper Zhou was still savoring his earlier display of courage.
Fan Xian set the stool directly in front of Housekeeper Zhou. Those nearby were puzzled. Housekeeper Zhou was no exception, and was about to raise a question. But little Fan Xian had already stepped onto the stool.
At only twelve years of age, Fan Xian was not very tall. On top of a stool, he was only the same height as Housekeeper Zhou.
The people were confused, not knowing what Fan Xian was about to do. At that moment, Fan Xian puffed two breaths into his right palm and raised it high.
“What are you doing?” The sentence hung in Housekeeper Zhou’s mouth and came out with a shower of spit.
Fan Xian brutally swung his little hand forward!
With a loud and crisp “smack”, Housekeeper Zhou tumbled over to the ground. A red handprint appeared on his face, and there was some blood on the corner of his mouth. He was physically stunned by the hit. There was no way he would have expected such strength to come from a child, not to mention… this child… actually dared to hit him in the first place!
Little Fan Xian hopped down from the stool, flexed his wrist, and took a handkerchief from a maidservant standing close by. He wiped hand as he looked at the housekeeper—who was groaning while holding his face—and said in a light voice: “Even a learned scholar would resort to violence. Even though I don’t abuse my servants, I am more than happy to show you the style of a son from a wealthy family.”