Chapter 1 Inferior to a Speck of Cinnabar on Your Brow
“Young Master Fan, it’s been ten years already. Whatever grudges you may have, it’s time to forget about them.”
“Please go home.”
“Your father, your grandfather and your brothers are all waiting for you.”
“As for your marriage, it concerns the honor of our family. After you return, we will select the most beautiful and most excellent woman to be your wife and the daughter-in-law of the Chu family.”
“That Qiu Mu-Cheng from the Qiu family is not worthy of you. Or the Chu family.”
Standing by the moat of Yunzhou city, a blotchy-eyed old man in traditional Chinese garment was earnestly trying to persuade Ye Fan. Compared to the others standing before him, Ye Fan’s clothes seemed ordinary and shabby.
“Yes, it’s been ten years. A dog would be considered old by now. But the family you speak of hasn’t changed one bit.” Ye Fan laughed self-deprecatingly, with a hint of bloodshot in his eyes.
“Ten years ago, my parents kneeled down in front of the Chu family’s gates. At that time, the family told my father this. They said my mother was a base commoner, not worthy of the Chu family and unfit to be their daughter-in-law. And I am born of the ‘commoner’ the family spoke of. My mother and I were driven mercilessly out of the family. We had to live in the streets. Until later, when I married into the Qiu family, where I had to endure humilations.”
“For the past ten years, when did you ever give a damn about my mother and I? Now, with just a few words, you expect me to forget about this grudge and my mother’s humiliation, and return with you to continue the Chu’s family line. Do you think that’s possible?”
“Go back and tell the family, my surname is Ye, not Chu.”
“And tell that useless father of mine. He’s not worthy of my mother and unfit to be my father!”
Ye Fan truly hated that cold-blooded family.
But even more so, he hated that weakling father of his!
Back then, if his father had a bit more backbone, he wouldn’t have to suffer so much humiliation with his mother.
Oftentimes, Ye Fan longed for his father to protect him and his mother. But his father always chose to back down and side with the family.
Even when the Chu family drove away mother and son, his father could only look on in fear. In front of the family, he didn’t dare to speak up or retaliate. And could only look on as his wife and son suffered humiliation.
From the bottom of his heart, he despised his father.
“Young Master Fan, please consider carefully.”
“You have to understand what you are turning down. That’s wealth comparable to a nation’s budget and enough power for you to be able to look down on everyone else.”
“As long as you return, you will be able to become the family head within ten years.” The old man was still trying to persuade Ye Fan.
But Ye Fan had already turned away. With a laugh, he asked: “So what?”
“Even if you give me the whole world, I will still consider it to be inferior to a speck of cinnabar on her brow!”
His words were firm and reverberated like the sound of a rock hitting the ground.
Ye Fan left, leaving behind a crowd speechless with shock.
After a long while, somebody sighed from beside the lake.
A middle-aged man looked at Ye Fan from afar, with feelings of indebtedness and remorse swirling in his heart.
“Fan, you are even more promising than your father!” The man smiled even as tears brimmed in his eyes.
His eyes blotchy from crying, Ye Fan strode along the streets of Yunzhou.
After enduring so many years of humiliation, Ye Fan thought noting could faze him anymore. But the appearance of the Chu family did disturb him, who was but a young man in his early twenties.
But life must go on. So Ye Fan picked up the pieces and hurried on his way to the Qiu’s family house.
The Qiu family was considered a somewhat prominent family in Yunzhou, a third-tier city. But they only truly rose to fame due to a scandal that had happened three years ago. The most beautiful daughter of the Qiu family, Qiu Mu-Cheng, suddenly got hitched with a luckless no-hoper and even let him marry into her family. This incident shocked the whole city and turned the Qiu family into a laughing stock.
Half-a-year into his marriage, Ye Fan finally realized the truth behind the matter.
At that time, Qiu Mu-Cheng’s family had committed a serious error and caused great losses for the entire Qiu clan. The head of the Qiu clan, in a fit of rage, imposed punishment on Mu-Cheng’s family branch and so she was forced to marry a trash as a warning to the other family members.
And Ye Fan, one of the leading actors in this incident, lost all respect with both men and women alike. He became a laughing stock, an object of ridicule to be talked about during meal times.
Suddenly, Ye Fan’s phone rang. The caller was Qiu Mu-Cheng, his wife in name.
“Where are you? Get back here now. We don’t have time to wait around for you.” Her tone was cold and authoritarian, as if she was giving an order.
It’s been three years already. Ye Fan had already gotten used to this. After ending the call, he hurried towards the Qiu’s family house.
Today was the day of Mu-Cheng’s cousin engagment party.
The head of the Qiu family had five sons and a daughter. Qiu Mu-Cheng’s father was the third eldest son. Today, the fourth eldest son’s daughter was getting engaged so, naturally, Mu-Cheng had to attend the function with her family.
“Mu-Cheng, I’m sorry. I had some matter to attend to, and was held up.” Thanks to his efforts, Ye Fan finally made it just in time.
At this time, the multitude of guests were gathered at the entrance and the scene was rather lively. But it was easy enough to single out Qiu Mu-Cheng from the crowd due to her outstanding looks and figure.
“Some matter to attend to? A trash like you had something to attend to?”
“You keep dilly-dallying day in and day out. My Mu-Cheng is being held back because of a no-hoper like you.” Upon seeing Ye Fan, a lady was unable to contain her dislike for him and let loose with a scolding.
And then, she saw what Ye Fan was wearing and got angrier. “Are you an idiot? Do you not know what is the occasion today? Yet you are wearing such shabby clothes. Are you trying to humiliate our Mu-Cheng?”
The lady was in the throes of rage and wished she could give Ye Fan a good kicking. Standing beside her, a middle-aged man stared at Ye Fan with displeasure. HIs look of contempt made for a distinctive contrast with the lady’s clear display of disgust.
“Okay, mom. Just stop talking.” Qiu Mu-Cheng, on the other hand, was calm and responded softly.
As if she’s already used to losing face because of Ye Fan.
“Why must I stay silent? Mu-Cheng, this piece of trash did it on purpose. He deliberately dressed shabbily to shame our family! The heavens must have sent him to torment us!” Han Li, Mu-Cheng’s mother, yelled in fury, her eyes bloodshot with rage. During all these years, she had been accumulating a lot of grievance because of Ye Fan.
“Enough is enough!” Mu-Cheng cut in with a scream. “Mom, how long are you going to keep this up? It’s fine when you keep the scoldings at home, but don’t you know you are embarrassing me when you scold him in public? Also, have we ever bought him anything nice after he married into our family? You want him to wear nice clothes, but does he have any to wear?”
Qiu Mu-Cheng tried her best to calm herself down, but Ye Fan could see that her eyes were red.
Nobody knew what kind of grievance and humiliation this family had to suffer through during these past three years.
After her daughter’s outburst, Han Li stopped talking and, after dabbing at her eyes, she turned and left for the house.
Ye Fan had nothing to say as well, and followed Qiu Mu-Cheng’s family into the house.
Inside the family house, there was a festive atmosphere.
At this moment, Mu-Cheng’s uncle was standing by the door, greeting the guests warmly together with his family.
“His sister-in-law is looking prettier and prettier, isn’t she?”
“I am already very happy that you can come today, there’s no need for gifts.”
“Ai, you are standing on ceremony.”
“It’s too much money. No, no. I can’t accept this.”
“Fine, we will take this. Next time, invite us to your son’s wedding.”
“Quick, Ying-Ying, come thank your auntie and uncle.”
Mu-Cheng’s aunt, Wang Qiao-Yu accepted the gift warmly and instructed her daughter, Qiu Mu-Ying, to greet their relatives. After some sweet salutations, Wang Qiao-Yu attentively guided their guests to their seats in the hall.
“Qiao-Yu, congratulations. We didn’t come late, did we?”
Qiu Mu-Cheng’s family had also arrived. Mu-Cheng’s mother, Han Li, stepped forward with a smile and offered her congratulation. Qiu Mu-Cheng and Ye Fan also greeted their aunt affectionately.
“Oh, it doesn’t matter even if come late. Since it’s useless even if you come.” Wang Qiao-Yu’s smile vanished as soon as she saw Mu-Cheng’s family and she responded coldly to their greetings. And she simply ignored Mu-Cheng’s and Ye Fan’s display of affection.
“Who asked you to come?”
“And you even brought that piece of trash here. To embarrass us?”
Even though Wang Qiao-Yu had a bad attitude, she didn’t do anything outrageous. But Qiu Mu-Ying was young and reckless, so she paid little heed to societal norms. Her dislike for Ye Fan outweighed everything else. And, as she disregarded the presence of guests and elders, she cut loose with a tongue-lashing.
In the Qiu family, Ye Fan was a source of shame. With a useless son-in-law like him, Qiu Mu-Cheng’s family was also held in low regard.
“Ying-Ying, be quiet. Pay attention to your surroundings.” Wang Qiao-Yu pulled her daughter aside and indifferently accepted the gift money offered by Mu-Cheng’s family. And without offering to guide them, let Mu-Cheng’s family make their own way into the hall to find their seats.
“Mind the trash. Don’t let him embarrass our Ying-Ying.” Wang Qiao-Yu couldn’t help leaving behind such an insulting barb.
“This family of four, they could only come up with this much money? They’re obviously here to freeload off us. Shameless.” Behind them, the undisguised disgust in Qiu Mu-Ying’s voice could be clearly heard. Qiu Mu-Cheng’s face paled in anger and Han Li could feel her heart constricting in her chest, but they ignored the insult and kept their peace.
After all, out of the five Qiu brothers, their branch of the family was the worst off. Their son-in-law was also the most useless. Without power and wealth to back them up, they could only accept their lot in silence.
Suddenly, a commotion could be heard outside the door.
A Benz drove into the driveway, and a young lady in a long gown stepped out hand-in-hand with a male companion.
When they saw her, both Wang Qiao-Yu and Qiu Mu-Ying smiled brightly. The looks of disgust on their faces had all but vanished. The mother-and-daughter pair scurried over to the front door to receive their guests.
“Mu-Hong. Brother-in-law. You’ve finally arrived. We have been waiting for you.” Qiu Mu-Ying smiled fawningly.
“Here, this way.”
“Oh my, why did you buy so many gifts? You are standing on ceremony.”
“Here, somebody come give my nephew-in-law a hand.” Wang Qiao-Yu too, was also eager to please
Even though Qiu Mu-Cheng and her family were also blood relations, but the difference in treatment was like heaven and earth. The unfairness twisted in their hearts like a knife.
The new arrival was Qiu Mu-Hong, the daughter of the fifth Qiu brother. Because she had found herself an excellent husband, the entire Qiu clan could not help but suck up to their branch of the family.