Chapter 159 – Backfired
With the assistance of the housekeeper, Chen Qing left Chen Shihuai’s study. The white shirt he was wearing had faint bloodstains on it, evidence of Chen Shihuai’s harsh punishment. When Chen Qing reached his room in the Chen family’s main house, the family doctor had also arrived.
He was instructed to remove his clothes. Although Chen Qing’s back wasn’t drenched in blood, the whip marks crisscrossing his skin looked gruesome.
However, the family doctor wasn’t surprised. After all, he had worked in the Chen family for many years and had seen such whip wounds more than once. Chen Shihuai was a strict patriarch when it came to his descendants. Many times, he would resort to violent methods to achieve his desired outcomes or to administer punishment.
The wounds on Chen Qing’s back weren’t the most severe the doctor had seen. In his memory, the worst beating Chen Shihuai had ever given was to Young Master Chen Li, who had autism—or perhaps, he couldn’t be called a “young master.”
Back then, the entire extended family still resided in the main house. Young Master Chen Li had been non-verbal and withdrawn since childhood. Perhaps Chen Shihuai thought that using violence would help him overcome his condition. He would be given a small beating every three days and a severe one every five days.
The family doctor shook his head at the memory. Communicating was already delayed for someone with autism. Because Chen Li once struggled to speak auspicious words in front of guests and ended up frustrating them with his stammering, he had incurred Chen Shihuai’s wrath. If the doctor hadn’t arrived in time that day, Chen Li might have lost his life. Such a small, fragile person, not an inch of good flesh on his body. Despite having no blood ties with Chen Li, he couldn’t help but feel pity for the child.
Since then, he had never heard Chen Li utter a single word. Clearly, the incident had left a psychological scar, rendering him unable to speak.
Autism itself was already an unfair hand dealt by fate to Chen Li, and yet he was still born into such a family.
However, while the family doctor sympathized, he was merely a family doctor in the Chen household. His words carried no weight. All he could do was secretly provide some medication to Chen Li.
Counting back, since Young Master Chen Qing’s family moved out of the old house, he hadn’t seen Chen Li again. He had no idea whether Chen Li was doing well or not.
The family doctor sighed inwardly, applying disinfectant to Chen Qing’s back. The solution had a stinging sensation, causing Chen Qing to tense up and involuntarily let out a hiss. The pain seemed to envelop his entire being.
“Young Master Chen Qing, please bear with it a little longer. It’ll be over soon,” the family doctor reassured while continuing his work.
Gritting his teeth against the pain, Chen Qing endured until the doctor finished applying the medicine, finally releasing a long breath.
“Young Master Chen Qing, avoid contact with water in the next few days, and also take some rest from your diet,” the family doctor cautioned, tidying his belongings as he did so.
“I understand. You can go now.” This wasn’t the first time for Chen Qing, so he knew what to expect.
With the room now empty except for Chen Qing, his face began to twist into a grimace. He swept everything off the bed in a fit of anger, but due to the force, he aggravated the wounds on his back. His pain receptors sent warning signals, leaving Chen Qing sprawled on the bed, his gaze bloodshot. It was unclear who or what he was resenting.
Early the next morning, Chen Shihuai, armed with newly prepared gifts, accompanied Chen Qing to the government compound to apologize to the Wu family.
The Wu residence.
“Secretary Wu, it’s Chen Shihuai from the Chen family,” the secretary informed Wu Zhang after receiving notification from the security guard.
At this time, Wu Zailin hadn’t left for work yet. Perplexed by the message, he asked, “Dad, what’s the Chen family here for? Is it about the A Zone Project?”
Although the A Zone Project had already been handed over to Jiang Ye, it hadn’t been announced publicly yet. Naturally, no one outside knew. However, the Chen family had attended the birthday banquet yesterday, so why were they back again today?
Wu Zailin was a bit puzzled about this.
Wu Zhang was engrossed in reading the newspaper when the question arose. The front-page headline happened to be about the fraudster group. Upon hearing Wu Zailin’s question, he handed the newspaper over for him to read.
“Heh, so they weren’t intentionally sending fake paintings, but they were actually scammed?” Wu Zailin read the newspaper article and chuckled, “The Chen family isn’t some brainless nouveau riche, how could they be so easily deceived?”
Although the newspaper didn’t reveal information about the Chen family, combined with Chen Shihuai’s behavior today, Wu Zhang and Wu Zailin immediately deduced that the Chen family was one of the victims.
It was quite amusing.
Wu Zailin felt that the humor for the day had been monopolized by this piece of news. The prestigious Chen family in the bustling city, Shanghai, had actually fallen for a fraudster group’s scheme. Who knows how much money they had been foolishly conned out of?
While the father and son were conversing, the secretary ushered in Chen Shihuai and Chen Qing.
As soon as Chen Shihuai entered, he wore an expression of guilt on his face. “Secretary Wu, I deeply apologize. Due to my carelessness, I ended up sending a fake painting. If you wish to punish me, please don’t hold back.”
Upon hearing this, Chen Qing quickly stepped forward and said, “Secretary Wu, it’s the fault of us younger generation. We found the painting, and we didn’t realize it was fake. We sent it over, causing you trouble. I’ll take full responsibility for it.” Chen Qing’s attitude was sincere, as if he genuinely recognized his mistake.
Chen Shihuai had taken the initiative to admit his mistake upon entering and expressed willingness to accept punishment. He presented himself as if he were offering his neck for chastisement. Chen Qing smoothly took over the admission of wrongdoing, putting Chen Shihuai in the background. Grandfather and grandson sang in harmony, making it seem like they had come to apologize, but more than that, they were narrating the whole incident to Wu Zhang, making sure he knew they were victims too.
Wu Zhang had already guessed the purpose of Chen Shihuai’s visit. He replied, “I’ve understood the situation. Mr. Chen is indeed a victim. There’s no question of punishment. Besides, I don’t have the authority to punish Mr. Chen. I only hope that next time Mr. Chen will be more discerning and not give criminals an opportunity.”
Wu Zhang didn’t mention Chen Qing in his words, but his implication was clear. While the painting might have been obtained by Chen Qing, did Chen Shihuai not inspect it before sending it over? Let’s not beat around the bush – the reason you got scammed is because you, the Chen family, were naive. While sympathy was due to the victims, it was necessary to sharpen your wits. You can’t afford to be duped again.
Chen Shihuai quickly acknowledged and presented the prepared gift, saying, “Secretary Wu, yesterday’s mistake has kept me restless. Today, I’ve brought another gift as compensation for my error.”
“I know Secretary Wu is an aficionado of paintings. This artwork is by the internationally renowned artist Chen Yunlan. I hope Secretary Wu will appreciate it.”
Chen Shihuai spoke and presented the prepared painting along with another piece of jade artwork.
“We won’t accept the painting!” However, before Wu Zhang could respond to these gifts, Wu Zailin stood up with some excitement, rejecting Chen Shihuai’s offerings. His gaze fixed on the painting done by Chen Yunlan, as if he were looking at an archenemy with irreconcilable grudges.
“This…” Chen Shihuai didn’t understand why Wu Zailin was so worked up. Chen Yunlan’s painting was also valued at several million, a price tag not inferior to Chen Li’s paintings. Why was Wu Zailin so resistant?
Could it be that Chen Yunlan’s painting wasn’t up to par with Chen Li’s?
To Chen Shihuai, this was simply a joke.
Seeing the discomfort and suppressed anger on Chen Shihuai’s face, Wu Zhang explained, “Mr. Chen, please don’t be upset. Although Chen Yunlan’s painting is remarkable, I won’t accept it. After all, my son’s teacher has some grievances with Chen Yunlan.”
Wu Zailin’s teacher? Chen Shihuai was somewhat uncertain because he didn’t know who Wu Zailin’s teacher was.
“May I ask who your son’s teacher is?” Chen Shihuai asked tentatively.
“Professor Zhuge Yu from Beijing’s Q Univeristy,” Wu Zhang didn’t hide the information; he answered directly.
“Professor Zhuge?” Chen Shihuai’s facial muscles twitched. He realized that he had once again made a mistake in his gift-giving, and this time, it had backfired.
Chen Yunlan was his son, and he was well aware of the conflicts between his son and Zhuge Yu. In fact, Zhuge Yu had even published a statement in the newspapers, severing ties with Chen Yunlan as his disciple, vowing never to interact with him again!
And here he was, delivering a painting by Chen Yunlan to the home of Zhuge Yu’s disciple. To put it mildly, it was a mistaken gift; to be blunt, it was an attempt to curry favor that went horribly wrong!
For a moment, Chen Shihuai felt quite embarrassed, not knowing what to say. He wished the painting he had brought would just disappear.
Standing behind Chen Shihuai, Chen Qing’s expression also twisted, not due to the mistake in the gift, but because he thought of Chen Li.
Chen Qing knew that Chen Li was a disciple of Zhuge Yu, and if Wu Zailin, Secretary Wu’s son, was also a disciple of Zhuge Yu, that would mean Chen Li was Wu Zailin’s junior. This would instantly connect the Chen family and the Wu family.
While the Chen family was trying to establish connections with the Wu family, Wu Zhang was treating them with indifference. They couldn’t establish any sort of relationship. Why was it that Chen Li, a fool, could have connections with the Wu family, and even be the junior brother of Wu Zailin? Wu Zhang seemed to favor Chen Li’s artwork as well?
Chen Li was nothing but a fool. What gave him the right to achieve all of this?
Chen Qing felt a sense of injustice in his heart, and his facial expression twisted slightly. However, he quickly suppressed it, only clenching his clothes tightly, revealing his inner turmoil.
As if he hadn’t sensed anything, Wu Zhang’s expression remained stern. He addressed Chen Shihuai, “So, Mr. Chen, we won’t accept this gift. Please take it back.”
Even with the thickest of skins, Chen Shihuai couldn’t endure the situation any longer. Holding the gifts he had brought, along with Chen Qing, he left somewhat dejectedly.
He had initially thought that an apology in person would resolve the matter, but unexpectedly, due to a painting, he found himself in an even more awkward situation.
He never would have thought that Chen Li and Wu Zailin were actually disciple brothers. Looking at it now, it seemed that having Chen Li return to the Chen family was an inevitable course of action.