Chapter 158 – Apologizing in Person
Upon hearing Wu Zikang’s words, Chen Qing couldn’t help but let out a cold laugh and said, “Yes, my grandfather has only me as his grandson. But what about the Chen family in the capital? Apart from my two uncles who have already established their careers, who among the other branches isn’t eyeing my accomplishments in Shanghai?”
Wu Zikang was momentarily speechless. He knew that although the Chen family in Shanghai appeared prosperous, they had always been controlled by the Chen family in the capital.
The original intention behind the establishment of the Chen family’s branch in Shanghai was to secretly assist the main branch in Beijing through commercial means. The founder of Shanghai’s Chen family, who was Chen Shihuai’s father, happened to be the older brother of the current patriarch of the Chen family in Beijing, Old Master Chen, who had surpassed his elder brother in age.
The Chen family in the capital, Old Master Chen was in charge. He had two sons, Chen Shijing and Chen Shixian. Although the members of this branch seemed few, there were many attached collateral lines.
These collateral lines had long been coveting the assets of Shanghai’s Chen family. Once Shanghai’s Chen family lacked a competent successor, the capital’s Chen family would undoubtedly send suitable candidates to take over.
Although Chen Qing was the only grandson of Chen Shihuai, if he wanted to inherit the family business, he would have to put in even more effort. He needed to excel beyond others because sometimes even Chen Shihuai, his grandfather, and the current patriarch of the Chen family, couldn’t resolve certain matters. Chen Qing understood this, which was why he was so furious now.
“Aqing, I…” Wu Zikang looked at Chen Qing with guilt on his face. His face had already swollen from the place where Chen Qing had hit him, but his worry at the moment overshadowed the pain on his face.
Yet, he couldn’t decipher if this worry was for Chen Qing personally or for his position within the family.
“Wu Zikang,” Chen Qing lowered his head, his expression unreadable. “Can you please just get the hell out of here? Can’t you leave me alone for a moment?”
Wu Zikang opened his mouth, but in the end, he left without saying a word. He knew that if he stayed, he would only add to Chen Qing’s annoyance.
Once Wu Zikang was gone, Chen Qing raised his head, his face full of bitterness. He didn’t even know whose fault he should attribute this incident to. Perhaps it was Wu Zikang, or maybe Wei Chen who had prevented Chen Li from returning to the family, or it could be Chen Li himself.
Since Wu Zikang was aware of this matter, it naturally wouldn’t escape Chen Shihuai’s attention. Chen Shi Huai hadn’t even finished reading the newspaper before he threw it away.
“Go and bring Chen Qing here, no matter where he is right now! Make him come to me immediately!” Chen Shihuai roared angrily at the housekeeper.
The housekeeper hurriedly nodded and left. He arranged for a driver to take him to Chen Qing’s home. The fact that the old master was this furious indicated that Young Master Chen Qing had committed a serious mistake. To prevent any unexpected escape attempts, he had to personally bring Young Master Chen Qing back to the main house.
The housekeeper’s concerns were unnecessary. Chen Qing hadn’t considered running away. When the housekeeper arrived at Chen Qing’s home, Du Lixun had already returned.
From Chen Qing, she learned the details of the situation. Her expression remained unchanged as she made a decisive statement, “Apologize. We’ll go and apologize in person.”
Chen Qing looked at Du Lixun with a lack of understanding, not comprehending why, despite already losing face so badly, they still had to go apologize in person. Wouldn’t that make them lose even more face?
Du Lixun glanced at Chen Qing with a hint of impatience, “To put it plainly, even our Chen family is a victim in this matter. Going directly to apologize to Secretary Wu not only shows our Chen family’s remorse but also helps restore our image in front of Secretary Wu.”
Chen Qing still couldn’t understand. He felt that apologizing in person was a blow to their reputation. Why would it help restore their image?
Du Lixun didn’t explain further to Chen Qing and simply said, “Just do as I said, alright? Can I still harm you?”
Just as Du Lixun finished speaking, the housekeeper arrived.
“Young Master Chen Qing, the master wants to see you,” the housekeeper urgently exclaimed.
“You could have just called, there was no need to make the trip,” Du Lixun chuckled and said, with an understanding of why Chen Shihuai wanted to meet Chen Qing.
The housekeeper responded, “The master was getting impatient, what could I do? I had to come in person.”
“Thank you for your trouble,” Du Lixun added, then touched Chen Qing’s trembling hand due to nervousness and whispered, “Follow everything that we discussed, got it?”
Chen Qing nodded, and then he and the housekeeper left together.
“Young Master Chen Qing, we need to hurry,” the housekeeper urged, quickening his pace. Chen Shihuai was in a bad mood at the moment; the sooner they arrived, the lesser his anger would be. The longer they waited, the more unpredictable the consequences could become.
Chen Qing understood this, so he hastened his steps and left the house with the housekeeper.
Watching their departing figures, Du Lixun’s lips curved into a faint smile. She hadn’t expected even the foolish Chen Li to have a chance for a comeback.
Accompanied by the housekeeper, Chen Qing rushed to the main house of the Chen family. Once he entered Chen Shihuai’s study and saw the scene inside, his heart tightened. He knew he couldn’t escape this time.
“Grandfather,” Chen Qing timidly called out, his composure already shattered.
“Chen Qing, look at what you’ve done this time! You’ve tarnished the reputation of our Chen family!” Chen Shihuai immediately scolded as soon as Chen Qing entered the room, his face filled with anger.
“Grandfather, I know I was wrong,” Chen Qing didn’t try to defend himself, even though he believed that he wasn’t solely responsible for this mistake. Grandfather had seen the painting too, and he had even let Uncle Chen look at it. But they still couldn’t discern the truth because the methods of the fraudsters were too sophisticated.
Feeling unfairly treated, Chen Qing was full of grievances. However, he wouldn’t voice them out. If Chen Shihuai had determined that he was at fault, then he was at fault. If he tried to argue, it would only compound the mistake and lead to more severe punishment.
“Do you think just admitting your mistake can make up for the losses our Chen family suffered?” Chen Shihuai’s anger was evident, and as he spoke, he exchanged a glance with the housekeeper who promptly handed him a long whip.
Seeing the whip in Chen Shihuai’s hand, Chen Qing could already feel a faintly burning pain on his back. He had developed a deep fear of these whips; from childhood to now, he had experienced his grandfather’s lashes many times. The sensation of each lash hitting his body, the pain it inflicted, was something Chen Qing would never forget.
Though afraid, Chen Qing didn’t dare to show it on his face. He could only grit his teeth and wait for the whip in Chen Shihuai’s hand to descend.
“Take off his clothes!” Chen Shihuai commanded. Even though it was early spring, the lingering cold of winter hadn’t completely dissipated. Chen Qing was wearing multiple layers, so the lash wouldn’t hurt too much.
The housekeeper stepped forward, saying, “Young Master Chen Qing, please cooperate.”
With no other choice, Chen Qing removed his coat and knelt before Chen Shihuai, wearing only a thin shirt.
The moment Chen Qing knelt down, the sound of the whip cutting through the air reached his ears. Before he could react, a loud crack sounded, followed by a burning pain on his back. It felt as if all his pain receptors had concentrated on his back. He curled up from the lash, but didn’t dare cry out in pain, because he knew that if he did, he would face even more agonizing punishment.
Chen Shihuai seemed to be venting his anger, relentlessly whipping Chen Qing’s back dozens of times before finally stopping. He had used a lot of force, and now he was panting too.
Chen Qing couldn’t maintain the kneeling position anymore. The pain on his back overwhelmed every nerve, and he didn’t know how he managed to stay upright.
“Now, tell me, how do you intend to resolve this matter?” After taking a brief rest and catching his breath, Chen Shihuai asked.
Chen Qing’s mind was blank at this point, completely consumed by the burning pain on his back. Hearing Chen Shihuai’s question, he immediately blurted out the method Du Lixun had told him, though he wasn’t very confident in its effectiveness.
“For the trouble I caused, let me go apologize at Secretary Wu’s house!” Chen Qing struggled to get the words out.
Chen Shihuai had expected Chen Qing to offer useless excuses, but he didn’t anticipate this response. His anger abated somewhat, and he turned to the housekeeper, saying, “Help young master up and have the family doctor attend to him.”
Chen Qing was somewhat dazed. Was the matter going to end just like this?
“Why are you standing there? Go with the housekeeper. Tomorrow morning, accompany me to Secretary Wu’s house and apologize,” Chen Shihuai said, giving Chen Qing a stern look.
“Of course, I will go with Grandfather tomorrow to apologize,” Chen Qing exclaimed, pleased by the unexpected turn of events.
At this point, Chen Qing still didn’t know why Du Lixun and Chen Shihuai had chosen this method to resolve the issue. But he didn’t dwell on it. As long as it helped alleviate Chen Shihuai’s anger, he didn’t want to experience another whipping; this time it had nearly cost him his life.
Assisted by the housekeeper, Chen Qing left the room. In the study, Chen Shihuai discarded the whip from his hand. Though still frustrated, his anger was no longer as overwhelming.
After all, Chen Qing was his lineage, a part of the Chen family his father had built. It was vital that this lineage continued under their stewardship. While Chen Qing might not yet bear great responsibility, he was young, and Chen Shihuai believed that, with his guidance, Chen Qing would gradually become stronger.
Indeed, today’s incident showed that Chen Qing wasn’t entirely irredeemable. Some clarity of thought remained within him.
Leaving the study, Chen Shihuai instructed the servants to tidy up the disheveled room caused by his rage. Then he left the Chen residence and headed to Chen Yunlan’s studio. He intended to select one of Chen Yunlan’s works to give to Wu Zhang as a peace offering, along with other gifts.
He believed that Wu Zhang wouldn’t hold their family accountable. After all, they were the victims, weren’t they? If Wu Zhang did insist on making it an issue, his magnanimity would be quite lacking.
Chen Shihuai ruminated as his mood gradually lightened.