Chapter 41 Freedom
Liu Zhongming was really interested to know where Qu Chenzhou would go first. Even if the other party was deliberately aimless, he should be able to see something strange in his actions.
So when he heard movement in the sarong outside, he also got up casually.
They went to wash up together, ate breakfast together, and went out, one in front, one in the back…
Liu Zhongming sat in the carriage for a while, only to realize that something was wrong—the other party didn’t follow him.
He went back along the road and found that Qu Chenzhou was still squatting on the threshold, with both hands on the door frame, like a mushroom growing by the door.
“What are you looking at?”
Qu Chenzhou frowned and looked away: “Sir… please go first, don’t wait for me.”
“What’s wrong?” Liu Zhongming stopped for a while, after waiting impatiently: “Let’s go.”
Before waiting for an answer, he sat down on the threshold and looked up and down, only to find that the tip of Qu Chenzhou’s nose was covered in fine sweat. After thinking about it, he couldn’t help but wonder: “Are you afraid?”
He heard people say that some people who have been in a place for a long time will have a great fear of the outside world, and this was the first time he had seen it with his own eyes.
He thought that this person would be eager to go out, but he didn’t expect that Qu Chenzhou, who was fearless, would be so afraid that he would get stuck at the threshold.
“Don’t mind me!”
Qu Chenzhou was suddenly annoyed.
The days when he was not free were much longer than what Liu Zhongming imagined.
Adding the two generations together, the number of times he went out could be counted on his fingers. After leaving Jinxi Academy, he did not take a single step out of the palace gate. Even in Qisheng Building before, he was surrounded by people when he went out very occasionally. The word “freedom” never existed.
One step away was the vast world that he once dreamed of. He had thought about it countless times, holding hands with Zhongming to go to the south of the mountains and the north of the sea, going to all the places he could go.
Now that he had come here, he had an inexplicable panic about the unfamiliar world outside the door.
After going through so many things, he was not afraid of anything and he could walk on the street upright, but his two legs were weak.
He did not know what to do, what to say, where to go, and what people outside would think of him.
Suddenly being revealed by someone, his mind was full of anger and humiliation for a moment. He quickly reacted: “Sorry…I…”
Liu Zhongming squatted down and looked into his eyes: “It’s not like I’m making you get married, what are you afraid of?”
Qu Chenzhou’s face was pale, and his calm eyes were covered with indescribable grievances.
“Shizi… go first, don’t worry about me.”
This look was full of pitiful cuteness and Liu Zhongming seemed to hear a thump in his chest. He stopped breathing for a moment.
He cursed in his heart—how could this little fox look like this, was it intentional?
He didn’t leave and Qu Chenzhou didn’t move. The two stood in a deadlock at the door for a long time. Liu Zhongming finally lost his patience and picked Qu Chenzhou up by the waist. He just stripped the man from the door frame, walked a few steps, and threw him into the carriage.
“Let’s go.” Liu Zhongming ordered without saying a word. The driver outside asked a question. He glanced at the person on the ground: “Anything, just stroll around the city.”
After entering the small space, Qu Chenzhou’s tense nerves slowly relaxed. He crawled up from the ground for a moment, only to realize that the carriage had moved and Liu Zhongming was with him.
“Shizi wants to come too?”
“What? You don’t want me to come with you?”
Qu Chenzhou got up without saying a word and sat in a far corner from Liu Zhongming, expressing a silent protest – it was the first time he went out, he was afraid of embarrassing himself and he didn’t want Zhongming to see himself like this.
What’s more, he was not clear about the purpose of Zhongming’s willingness to let him out. If they go together, he was afraid of revealing any flaws.
Liu Zhongming saw his on-guard appearance and the blue veins on his forehead jumped. He pressed it down with great self-control, took off his cloak, and leaned towards the soft seat.
“We really can’t get along with each other. Don’t worry, I don’t want to walk with you either. It’s just along the way. In a bit, I’ll get dropped off first, then you can do as you please. I’ll instruct Steward Lin to bring you back before dark.”
Qu Chenzhou gently let out an ‘en’, then focused on looking out the carriage window.
He didn’t know if it was because he got into the carriage or because he was accompanied by a familiar person, but he gradually lost the suffocating tension and fear, and for the first time he was able to look at the wonderful world outside.
A peddler shaking a rattle, a peddler pushing his cart, a steaming hot steamer, and a farmer who drives a cart to sell vegetables.
A woman wearing a bun was picking her favorite hairpin, and a child with a windmill was chasing and running through the gaps in the crowd, leaving behind a path of noise.
He frowned, looked at it for a while, then closed his eyes for fear that the flushing at the corners of his eyes would not be covered.
These are all what Zhongming once told him with great enthusiasm, and it took so many years to really see it with his own eyes.
“Have you ever been in the capital before?” Liu Zhongming asked suddenly, squinting at him.
Qu Chenzhou came back to his senses, hesitated for a while, then replied, “No, I’ve walked…less than two laps…”
“Less than two laps?” Liu Zhongming couldn’t help laughing: “You remember it that clearly? Why only walk laps?”
“…I didn’t have the strength…”
“Your strength is really poor.”
Qu Chenzhou turned his face away and stopped talking to him.
Listening to the tone of his answer, Liu Zhongming guessed that even if this person was able to leave the palace, he probably wouldn’t have done that many times, otherwise he wouldn’t have looked at the situation on the street with such unfamiliar and greedy eyes.
Was he really an eunuch in the palace? He heard that after that thing was gone, a person would indeed become less solid.
While he was thinking about it, his eyes involuntarily glanced between Qu Chenzhou’s legs. After staring at it for a while, Qu Chenzhou changed his posture and covered his legs with his sleeves.
Knowing that the other party noticed his gaze, he was still a little embarrassed, so he changed his posture to look out the window and continued to ponder in his mind.
He can write almost as good as him, and he was stomach full of poetry and books, yet he still had such a bad temper. Is this a temperament one has to serve people? He’s probably not a Gonggong right?
A long term resident in the palace, could he be a Shizi?
Died more than ten years later, how old could this person be at that time? At least tenish years old.
Jingchen was a bit closer in character, but he recognized Jingchen’s words, which was far from his.
That said, maybe he hadn’t been born yet and the young concubine in the palace that was most likely to give birth to a Shizi…
Liu Zhongming suddenly shuddered – after all this calculation, is it possible that Qu Chenzhou was his unborn nephew? !
So what had he done before?
He stroked his forehead, breaking down a little. He peeked over at him just to see Qu Chenzhou squinting at him calmly. Those strange eyes seemed to see through all the thoughts in his mind.
“Sir, are you feeling unwell?”
“No…” Liu Zhongming wiped the sweat on his forehead, stretched out his hands and feet and laid down on the soft couch seat for a while and couldn’t help asking: “You… did you know me before?”
Qu Chenzhou asked back, “Are there any people in the palace who doesn’t know the Shizic?”
Seeing that Liu Zhongming wanted to ask again, he raised his hand to stop him: “The Shizi doesn’t need to get to the bottom of it. Even if you ask me, I won’t speak so there is no need to waste your time.”
Liu Zhongming’s words were blocked back. He was unhappy, so he simply changed the topic.
“Don’t be too sentimental, I don’t want to know about the things you’re hiding. I’m going into the palace today and will request the emperor for a seat at Dali Temple. It will probably pass before the spring of next year. What are your thoughts?”
Speaking of these plans, Qu Chenzhou was not stingy with his words. After thinking about it for a moment, he said, “After entering the official position, there will be many people watching. It is better to stir the water now and eliminate the uncertain danger.”
“Are you speaking about Jiang Xingzhi?”
“Yes,” Qu Chenzhou nodded: “Jiang Xingzhi said I gave him divination, but Fang Wuyang didn’t have his name on the booklet…”
“From what I see personally, most likely Jiang Xingzhi was lying.” Liu Zhongming said, “But last time he had brought Qi Wang to Qisheng Building at that time, then came to you again, and he even went to your hometown to inquire about you. Why is he paying so much attention to you? ”
Qu Chenzhou frowned. There was a crack in his memory, as if he was going to be sucked in and the darkness inside would crush his flesh and bones into pieces.
Liu Zhongming looked at him holding his forehead and asked, “Do you remember if you have given him a divination before?”
“Let me… think about it later.”
“It’s not in a rush. Jiang Xingzhi likely wants to confirm your affairs then take advantage of you.”
This is what Qu Chenzhou was most afraid of. Even if he was under Liu Zhongming’s name now, once Jiang Xingzhi confirms the facts, he was afraid that the word will spread out. It would not be good for Liu Zhongming.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know, who is he doing this for.”
“Jiang Xingzhi is just Qi Wang’s Changshi (chief staff).” Liu Zhongming heard his words and was immediately alert: “You mean… Jiang Xingzhi is not Qi Wang’s person?”
“He is not Qi Wang’s. I didn’t have much interaction with him before and he died early, so I’m not sure whose side he was on.”
Qu Chenzhou twisted his slender fingertips. He was stroking something he was accustomed to on the front of his clothes: “He wants to find out about me. It’s a coincidence because I also want to dig into his den.”
“How sure are you?” Liu Zhongming asked: “He is now the Changshi of the palace, under the guise of Qi Wang’s people. Qi Wang, you know, he has a one-track brain and was fooled by Jiang Xingzhi so he doesn’t know where north is. If you touch him, Qi Wang will definitely come find you.”
“How could he come looking for me?” Qu Chenzhou raised his eyebrows and showed a harmless smile: “Even if he does come find someone, Qi Wang will definitely look for the Shizi.”
Liu Zhongming was speechless: “You…”
“If it was me, of course I wouldn’t dare to touch him, but now, don’t I have the protection of Shizi (heir)? An insignificant Jiang Xingzhi is nothing to worry about.”
Although this seemed to be complimenting himself, Liu Zhongming didn’t have a good feeling when he heard it. He was still laughing at Qi Wang being fooled by Jiang Xingzhi so he didn’t even know north from south, yet in a sudden reversal, he was the one with the title of fool.
In any case, Qi Wang was kept completely in the dark, while he was being fooled with his eyes open. By comparison, his status seemed worse.
“Qu Chenzhou, don’t forget, I am your master!” He asked in a vicious voice: “Are you a fox exploiting a tiger’s might (use powerful connections to intimidate people)?”
“No,” Qu Chenzhou replied calmly, “It should be regarded as a dog threatening a person based on their master’s power.”
Liu Zhongming thought that this person was definitely not his own nephew. Their Liu family did not have such person, otherwise his sister’s education would have failed too thoroughly.
Qu Chenzhou had some thoughts. As soon as he opened his mouth, he saw Liu Zhongming grabbing the cloak on the couch and rushing towards him. He wrapped the cloak around his shoulders, dragged him up, and gently pressed him to the woolen rug under his feet.
Afterwards, Liu Zhongming also pressed his entire body down, pushing his knees against the middle of his legs, preventing him from moving.
Almost at the moment when Liu Zhongming pressed up against him, someone was talking and laughing and opened the carriage curtain: “Zhongming, what a coincidence…”
The author has something to say: Interview with Zhongming, do you know where Chenzhou went for his two laps?