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Raising the Young Grand Secretary – 006

Chapter 006

Author: Feast of Masks


Translated by Gumihou

Edited by Gumihou: Just some very small sentence restructuring for better understanding


Xue Gouzi’s voice was very soft, as though the lightest breeze would dissipate it.

Even so, Xue Cuiping’s reaction was very frantic. She hastily shook her head and said, “No, no, your Eldest Uncle did not send me. I came on my own, I was just thinking-”

She was cut off by Xue Gouzi again.

He suddenly smiled a small shy smile and said with a sigh of relief, “It is fine so long as it is not Eldest Uncle who asked you to come. Eldest Aunt nearly scared me to death. I thought that Eldest Uncle only doted on Eldest Brother and doesn’t care for me at all. Especially when Eldest Uncle clearly said that he doted on me most.”

What could Xue Cuiping say to that? She could only mumble a few unrelated things before turning around to lift the door curtain and escape the second branch room.

It was very quiet in the room. The eyes of the young man on the kang bed darkened. A trace of something sinister and forbidding that did not match his age flashed across those eyes.

Seeing her little man like this, even Zhao’er felt a little hesitant about stepping forward. It took a while before she sidled close enough to sit on the edge of the kang bed and hesitantly said, “Gou’er, are you alright?”

Looking at Zhao’er’s worried face, Xue Gouzi smiled and said, “I’m fine.”

Zhao’er pressed her lips together and stroked his head, “You just trust elder sis. We will see the day when we need not depend on others.”


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Xue Cuiping left without stopping for lunch, hurrying off with the bag of wheat seeds that Old Zhao had given to her.

No one knew what was said between her and Old Zhao. However, when lunch came around, both Old Zhao and Yang’shi’s expressions were so ugly that even Sun’shi and Zhou’shi felt the need to be a little cautious.

Zhao’er had never concerned herself with these things. Once the food was set on the table, she fetched two bowls and filled them with rice and side dishes. In fact, one could not possibly call the food on the table anything close to a sumptuous meal. The rice was just some millet grain and the side dishes were mostly braised Chinese cabbage and radish along with some pickles. There was some meat on the table, fatty cuts of meat on a very small plate placed in front of the men.

The men had to work hard and sweat a lot in the fields and therefore needed meat for strength.

Zhao’er also had no interest in the meat. The meat cooked by Zhou’shi looked fatty and greasy, just looking at it made her lose her appetite. Instead, she collected the usual amount of cooked vegetables and pickles, which was not a lot. However, on this occasion, Old Zhao suddenly threw her chopsticks down.

“So little food, can the two of you really eat all of that? Are you reincarnations of hungry ghosts?”

The words were clearly meant to hurt and humiliate. Anyone with a modicum of self-esteem would probably be deflated by this. However, Zhao’er was used to the verbal abuse. Old Zhao had always been like this. She would use all kinds of ways to dig at anyone who annoyed her.

Zhao’er ignored her and continued to collect more side dishes into her bowl. She had in fact collected enough, but had purposefully picked up more just to annoy Old Zhao.

“It can’t be help, ah, Granny. Gou’er needs to take care of his health. Since we don’t have any good supplements to improve his constitutions, surely we could at least let him eat until he’s full,” Zhao’er suddenly turned to Zhou’shi, “Third Aunt, the next time you wash and trim the vegetables, you must call me to help. Our family is not so poor that we cannot afford to eat. However, we have scholars at home and a Tong Sheng Master. Granny may be strict with the home finances, but she is not one to not allow people to at least have a bit of vegetables to eat.”

Zhao’er believed that she would not lose to anyone when it comes to petty tricks like scolding others while pointing at someone else. Especially when she was already harbouring all this resentment in her heart.

Sure enough, Old Zhao was immediately annoyed, “Even richer families could not afford to support locusts like you. Refusing to work but yet eat more than others. A stupid girl like you would have been long chased out by a different family.”

Zhao’er’s smile disappeared, “Granny, it is wrong for you to say that. From the moment I enter this family at seven years old, is there any work in the fields or chore at home that I did not do? When my father died, I swore filial piety to his spirit. When Mother died, I looked after her and waited upon her for more than half a year. As the second branch family’s daughter-in-law, I gave the two elders a proper send-off. Within 10 miles and 18 villages, no one would dare chase me away.

Even so, ah. Granny, please don’t disdain this granddaughter-in-law for being too talkative. Just like how meals are graded differently, people are also divided into different statuses, ah. Some are able to [1] eat well and drink hard, to the point that they forget to wipe their oily mouths, while others count themselves lucky if they could stuff themselves with soft paste and some scraps. Our family have a dozen over chickens but the eggs are rarely seen. Tao’er and I feed them every day, but never knew where the eggs go. Gouzi had been sick for so many days and only had one egg. In the future, do not ask me to look after the chickens any more. After all, it is not like the eggs ever reached me. Have the person who ate the eggs look after them.”

The looks on the some of the people on the table were especially ugly. Among them, the main branch’s mother and son had the most colourful expressions. First going red, then white, it was like looking at a dye job.

She was clearly picking on the main family for ‘eating on the sly and forgetting to wipe their mouths’. Old Zhao was a stingy one. However, she had never been stingy when it came to her eldest son or her eldest grandson. Yang’shi and her youngest were naturally shielded by the same favour. The little seven-year-old was puffing up, looking like he wanted to say something, but was severely pulled back by Yang’shi.

The fourth branch’s Mao Dan was still young and has a gluttonous mouth. He had been tired of eating nothing but Chinese cabbages for a long time now. When he heard the word ‘egg’, he could no longer help himself and began screaming at Sun’shi, “Mother, I want eggs, I want eggs…”

Within the silent hall, the child’s shrill cry was especially piercing, giving everyone around him a headache.

Sun’shi was so flustered and annoyed by the crying that she slapped him, “What are you crying for? What eggs? How can there be eggs for the likes of you!?” Her voice was particularly sharp.

She thought: So what if you complain? I want to complain too, but I can only endure!

After receiving this slap, Mao Dan’s cries reached a higher pitch. The shame and anger in Old Zhao’s heart suddenly found a new target, “Sun’shi, you’ve grown so audacious that you dare to hit my grandson?”

Sun’shi, who had always feared Old Zhao, immediately turned her attitude around to smile awkwardly at her mother-in-law, “Mother, Mao Dan is making such a fuss about wanting eggs it’s too childish of him, especially when there are none for him…” she mumbled the rest of her sentence even as her eyes slide over towards the family of four from the main house.

Old Man Xue had always ignored the tricks and antics of his daughters-in-law. Today, however, he suddenly could not bear it any more.

With a darkened face, he slapped the table so hard that it actually shook and all the bowls, plates and cutleries bounced with a clatter. “What’s all this fuss?!”

Zhao’er did not back down or play dead, she openly complained, “Grandpa, Granny is accusing Gouzi and I for eating out the house and home.”

She placed her two bowls on the table, covered her face and sobbed, “We only have this bit of vegetables to eat, not even a drop of oil could be seen but already we are accused of eating too much. If others were to see this, they would laugh to death at the absurdity of it all. If Granny truly hates Gouzi and I, she should just say so. It’s better to let us second branch family separate and never touch the family’s food than be accused of eating out the house and home.’

The moment he heard ‘separate’, Old Man Xue’s eyebrows twitched and he harshly scolded, “What separate? No one is allowed to mention separation!” After scolding them, he suddenly felt that he was being too harsh and lowered his voice to say, “Your Granny is just upset by your aunt’s family and was a bit harsh. Even so, as a junior, you should not talk back to your elders like that.”

Then, he turned around and scolded Old Zhao, “How many times have I told you now? What is wrong with your memory? You lived so long yet did not manage to absorb any life lessons. What would hoarding eggs do for you? Who would eat them once they go bad? Third daughter-in-law, you go and fetch a few and fry them up. Add another dish to the table.”

Just like that, Old Man Xue managed to silence everyone.

Zhao’er’s eyes flashed. It was no lie to say that she wanted to separate from this family. What a pity this attempt had been thwarted even before it could be placed on the table. Even so, it was very unlikely for Old Man Xue to allow this separation. If word got out that the second branch, consisting of a child and a half-grown girl, to separate. The family would be accused of bullying the two children. Moreover, Old Man Xue still wishes to twist up the whole family on one rope in hopes that the Xue Clan could once again produce another Xiucai to honour the family.

Leaving all else aside, the entire Xue family at least received a good meal out of the commotion.

Zhou’shi fried a large platter of eggs and specially reserved a bowl for Zhao’er.

This move was a little interesting. One should know that the couple from the third branch tended to keep to themselves. They were like the Xue family’s old oxen, workers who rarely spoke up as they tended to the fields and chores. They also rarely involve themselves in with the two children from the second branch.

However, Zhao’er did not think much of the move. After all, everyone has their own thoughts and plans. Since she could not control anyone’s thoughts, the best she could do was ignore them.

She returned to the second branch room with the food. The moment she stepped through the doors, she smiled at Xue Gouzi and said, “Gou’er, look. We have eggs for lunch.”

Seeing the smile on the girl’s face, a complicated expression crossed Xue Gouzi’s face.

Although he had remained in his room, he did not miss the argument in the main hall.

Zhao’er had always been like this, bold and aggressive. She never cared what others thought of her and always did her own thing. In the past, he had felt this bold and aggressive behaviour was too unrefined and embarrassing. He thought that she brought shame onto herself and him by default. When he failed to persuade her to be more reserved, everything she did later became a thorn in his eye he eventually grew to dislike her.

It was only later that he realised that it was he who was the foolish one, on top of being a hypocrite and a coward. However, by then, it was all too late.

“You chose to quarrel with Granny over eggs?”

When the words were out of his mouth, he realised he had not changed his awkward speech pattern. Talking like this would only cause her to misunderstand his intention. As expected, a shadow crossed over Zhao’er’s face for a moment, before she renewed her smile to say, “Things that Xue Juncai could eat, my Gou’er should get to eat too. Quick, come and eat this. You will recover faster with more nutritious food.”

Look at this, she was treating him like a child again, saying ‘My Gou’er’ as though he was her little brother. Mentally, he was not a child. Moreover, a young man’s mentality is rather sensitive and back then ‘he’ did not like to be treated like a child either. ‘He’ also had no idea how to properly express himself. In the past, this had slowly led to disgust and subconscious avoidance.

Xue Gouzi had no idea why he was thinking like this. He felt as though he had become very strange, that he had split into two persons. A Xue Gouzi and a Xue Tingxiang. Every time he encountered something that had to do with Zhao’er, a voice would whisper in his mind, speaking out the thoughts hidden deep within his heart.

As his mind was busy thinking, something touched his lips and he looked down to see that it was a piece of crisp and puffy omelette.

“Third Aunt fried the egg well. Gou’er should take a nice big bite. Eat well and grow big and strong.”

Zhao’er regretted the words as soon as they left her mouth.

[2] She used to coax Gou’er into eating by talking to him like this when he was young. However, she had no idea when, but he started to resist and resent her whenever she spoke like this to him. It must be because he was being so obedient today that she slipped up and reverted to the old pattern of speaking.

[2] Anxious, she smiled brightly and tried to take the spoon away. Perhaps, she could pass it off as a joke?

Suddenly, Gou’er moved forward and closed his mouth over the spoon.

Everything on the spoon, including the rice was eaten.

“It’s delicious,”

Seeing him munch happily at his food with his eyes squinted close, Zhao’er smiled back and said, “You should eat more if you like it. Elder sis will make more money and Gou’er will have fried omelettes every day.”

Even as she maintained her smile, she secretly assessed Xue Gouzi’s attitude and could not help but breathe a sigh of relief when he did not show any signs of displeasure.

Zhao’er had purposely mentioned this to gauge her little man’s behaviour. [3] Xue Gouzi had always disliked her running around all over the place learning to do business. The two of them had quarrelled many times over this. However, she could not stop making money just because he disliked it.

She wanted to earn more money. With money, she could support her little man in his studies and not compete for this family’s shrinking resources. After all, the two of them are one family. They were the only ones in the second branch family.

Zhao’er had already thought about it in depth. It did not matter if he objected, she would keep doing it.

Naturally, it would be best if he did not object.

Therefore, she could not help but add a few more words, “I brought up separation with Granny and Grandpa just now, but was blocked by Grandpa.” When the little man looked like he wanted to say something, she interrupted to say, “You listen to elder sis first, there are some things I don’t want to discuss too deeply with you. You’re still young and I don’t want to disturb your studies. However, you have seen what happened today. Elder sis could also tell that you have your own thoughts.

In this house, for the things we can strive for, we should strive for. They belonged to us in the first place and cannot allow others to simply snatch them from us. If they wish to take from us, they should at least be made to give an explanation. We must let them know that we are not easily bullied! Even if we lost, that is fine. Elder sis recently found a new way to do business and will make enough to send you to school. I’ve said a lot of things, but what I want you to know is that you have nothing to fear. If the sky falls down I will hold it up for you. We have more than one road in life. Only the foolish will limit their horizons and make things difficult for themselves.”

Zhao’er had wanted to speak to Xue Gouzi about this for a long time, but she also understood that the little man was the type who overthought things. However, even she did not expect that he would overthink to the point of making himself sick. Still, [3] his attitude was very good today and she wanted to take this opportunity to speak her mind.

Xue Gouzi looked at her.

This moment was different from his dream. In the dream, after his sudden outburst, the Xue Clan descended into chaos and nearly everyone in the family rebuked him, saying that he was insensible, that he did not care for the family, was unfilial and caused Granny to faint with shock. To protect him, Zhao’er had quarrelled with the entire family. Even the clan leader was called in to mediate the matter.

Zhao’er was accused of disrespecting her elders and for talking back to her betters. Because of this, she was whipped five times in front of the Xue Clan ancestral hall in front of the public as a warning to others. The matter was suppressed by the Elder and he did not even have the strength to resist and what should have been his was robbed from him.

Later, Xue Juncai attended the town school and was even more well-regarded. On the contrary, the second branch became reviled by the rest of the extended family. Life at the main house became even more difficult, especially with the main house instigating everyone.

In the end, they had no one to speak for them in their own home, and no one in the village on their side. He could not even attend the private school because Eldest Uncle announced that he was an ungrateful white-eyed wolf, and that not even he could teach this kind of dog-hearted person. He even told everyone that Zhao’er had hit the Eldest Aunt, and could not bear to make trouble for the family by involving himself with such a troublesome couple.

At that time, Xue Gouzi was only fourteen. Although he understood that there were bad people in the world, he could not understand true malice. Or perhaps he did, but the hopelessness of his situation made him subconsciously push all responsibilities away. Instead, he blamed all the dissatisfaction in his life on Zhao’er, including fate’s harsh hand.

Perhaps he may have even understood that it was wrong of him to blame her, but the misunderstanding between them was already too deep and the two of them had drifted too far apart. Moreover, he did not have the face to explain all of this to her.


[Gumihou: There’s a lot of stuff happening here. Also, Feast of Mask likes to reference her other stories, as you can see in the ‘Author Notes’]


The author has something to say:

Zhao’er: My Gou’er, even if the sky were to fall, elder sis will shield you

Xue Tingxiang: This *Scum Mask, I demand a change of program. If I don’t change how could I be a proper husband in the future?

Scum Mask: A change of program? Think you have any more chances?

Xue Tingxiang: QAQ

* deliberate mispronunciation of Feast of Mask


More Author’s Notes:

I did not wish to explain too much. Because this novel and <<The Actor’s Daily Struggler>> should be read as two completely independent works. As mentioned, there are many places. Still, there are fairies who are concerned about how Xue Tingxiang is portrayed here.

In the first place, the Xue Tingxiang from <<The Actor>> did not die and later reconciled with his son. In this novel, Xue Tingxiang dies. Since a reconciliation happened with Wang Mingsheng later, it also revealed the secret reasons behind the so-called wife-killing and child-killing scenes.

Moreover, Xue Tingxiang from <<The Actor>> is portrayed as a despicable and hypocritical person, but then again, he is not a ‘good’ person to begin with. Instead, he was a person who was able to stand strong for three dynasties, engaging in various political struggles and conflicts with the emperor, eliminating dissidents, and eventually reaching a high-ranking position. His power and influence extended to the river, naval forces, wealthy merchants in Jiangnan, and even smuggling. Therefore, he could not possibly be a good person. However, he was not entirely bad either and had accomplished many things beneficial to the state, which is why his reputation outside was so good.

For those who imagined him as an upright and honest civil servant of the literati, haha, that’s definitely your illusion. Anyone who could climb to the position of prime minister and engaged political struggle can never be pure or flawless. Especially with the background setting of Dachang Dynasty where Ming Dynasty collapse and the Qing people took over. 

The literati, wealthy merchants in Jiangnan, and various local aristocratic groups jointly elected the founder of the Dachang Dynasty, who had the most powerful and valiant army at the time. It was almost a continuation of all the pros and cons of the previous dynasty, so the literati system can be compared to the Donglin Party, albeit after suffering numerous suppressions.

Some things about Xue Tingxiang’s last life will be interspersed to tell everyone. Don’t worry. And the framework of this book’s background will slowly unfold with the advancement of Xue Tingxiang.


[1] Eat well and drink hard (liquor)

– live a very good life

[2] Adjusted text for clarity

[3] Add details for clarity


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