Joy of Life - Chapter 330[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:23]
Chapter 330: Disturbance Before Leaving (Part 1)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The carriage stopped outside the door of the Overwatch Council. Fan Xian exited the carriage and went straight into the yard. Along the way, he smiled slightly at the officials he met. This was the first time he had come to the Council after the “chaos of the rumors,” and met with the expected fire in the eyes of all the officials.
In reality, many of the officials in the lower ranks did not know who Ye Qingmei was. However, they saw those shining words every day and, below it, the name that looked down on all the men in the world. They had eventually developed a familial sense of familiarity and closeness.
Under Chen Pingping’s—intentional or not—dissemination, the heads of the Eight Bureaus, Zong Zui, and those old fellows, had begun to publically speak to their subordinates about what kind of merchant family the Ye family had been back in the day. And what the Ye family had done for the Overwatch Council. Finally, they had reached a conclusion: without the Ye family, there would be no Overwatch Council.
After all, the Ye family had fallen to the crime of rebellion. When the officials of the Overwatch Council had first heard their superiors praising and boasting about the Ye family, the officials couldn’t help feeling a bit anxious. However, they had discovered that the court did not seem to hold this as a taboo, and Commissioner Fan’s other identity was very interesting. So they had become more interested in learning about the details of those years.
After a few rounds of brainwashing, the officials in the Council felt very close to the old Ye family, as inseparable as fish from water, as soldiers from the people. Now that they knew Commissioner Fan was the son of the name carved on the stone tablet, the gaze with which they looked at Fan Xian carried a trace of true fear and warmth, as well as the usual respect.
No wonder the old Director would support, with all his strength, this seemingly-frail man taking over the Overwatch Council in the future.
Regardless of officials or commoners in the Qing Kingdom, they all stressed something: things should be received by rights. Fan Xian’s proven ability and sufficient intelligence when handling tasks in the Council, as well as his identity as the descendant of the Ye family that everyone knew of (but could not say), would be of great help to him in gaining full control of the Overwatch Council. At least, the internal members of the Council mostly had no more doubts.
Today, Fan Xian didn’t have the time to win the support of the thousands of officials in the yard. He hurried to the plain surrounded by the square structure. It was bitterly cold today—the spring winds were still far away. The tall trees were frozen and stripped of leaves, and the shallow pool was frozen like a mirror. The fish inside had probably died long ago.
Chen Pingping sat in his wheelchair wrapped in thick furs. He was listening to a song that twisted back and forth and seemed to wail and cry. His eyes were slightly closed, and his right hand was lightly tapping out a rhythm on the arm of his wheelchair. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.
This scene made Fan Xian think of another world in which there were also old drooping men who liked to lie in old and broken wicker chairs. The afternoon sun would leak into the alley, and the ancient phonograph would be playing records of old Shanghai music: the soft, energetic music of Yao Li or Bai Hong. Just like this, they would tangle with the weak sunlight…
The problem was, Chen Pingping was not Li Jingguang, and he was not listening to a phonograph. The old man was at a much higher level than that of the ordinary person.
Fan Xian did not have time to appreciate the old cripple’s feudalistic, petty bourgeois, and watched Sang Wen with great sympathy, who was standing under the trees and singing nonstop in the middle of winter. The girl’s face was flushed with the cold but her voice did not shake. He didn’t know if it was because she had become used to singing in the cold, or if she was just that shockingly good.
“What a waste.” Fan Xian waved his hand for Sang Wen to stop, and smiled. “I invited Sang Wen to the Council because I wanted to make use of her abilities, not for her to sing to you.”
Chen Pingping opened his eyes and smiled. “Different jobs, but all in the service of the court. If Sang Wen can make me happy and help me live a few more years, then that is better than her being by your side.”
In a heartbeat, Fan Xian understood what Chen Pingping meant. It seemed like he also knew that he didn’t have much longer.
“I am leaving soon.” He lightly patted the back of Chen Pingping’s wrinkled and dry hand. “I have to take Sang Wen with me. Baoyue Brothel is expanding towards Jiangnan.”
“Have her go in the spring,” Chen Pingping sighed. “Have her leave with the Third Prince. At least they can look after each other.”
Fan Xian became very angry. How could he have almost forgotten the matter with the Third Prince?
Sang Wen curtseyed formally and walked away with Su Wenmao, leaving space for the old and young ministers of the Overwatch Council to talk.
Standing at some distance, they couldn’t hear what Chen Pingping and Fan Xian were talking about. They could only see Fan Xian half kneeling on the ground with an increasingly serious expression, while Chen Pingping was silent for a while before smiling again. He lightly patted Fan Xian’s head as if to comfort him.
“Let’s go.” Fan Xian spoke to Su Wenmao, and then glanced at Sang Wen beside him. He had single-handedly rescued Sang Wen from the Baoyue Brothel and directly transferred her into the Overwatch Council, so she was someone he trusted. However, Sang Wen had almost no opportunity to be at his side in recent days. She was instead responsible for singing to Chen Pingping every day.
“How have you been recently?” Fan Xian asked.
Sang Wen smiled warmly, and her slightly-round face seemed very cheerful. Her large mouth was not all that noticeable, and she said amenably, “There’s nothing much to do all day, so I sing for the Director. It’s very relaxing.”
“Very good,” Fan Xian smiled. “As the Director wishes, you’ll go to Jiangnan in a few months. But for now…” he paused, and said evenly, “stay by the Director. Make him happy.”
The carriage outside the Overwatch Council was ready to head in the direction of the Twenty-eight-Li Hill. The date the Emperor had given Fan Xian to leave the capital was too close; there wasn’t enough time, and Fan Xian was unprepared. There were many things he had to make plans for before leaving the capital within a few days, thus he had seemed unusually busy.
Gao Da and the two Tiger Guards were again not in the carriage. Fan Xian still did not trust these personal bodyguards enough.
Fan Xian waited for a moment before Su Wenmao climbed into the carriage. He rubbed his red hands and lowered his voice to report, “The Third Bureau checked the records for the palace gate. Eunuch Yao went to the outskirts of the capital. This wasn’t a secret, so the palace didn’t order the Council to destroy the records.”
“Why did Old Yao go the outskirts?” Fan Xian asked curiously.
Su Wenmao placed the side of his hand against his throat and mimed a throat-cutting gesture. “In the Hanging Temple incident, the eunuch assassin’s… foster parents, live in a village on the outskirts of the capital. Eunuch Yao went to deal with this matter. He took guards with him.”
Fan Xian furrowed his brows and sighed a moment later. “Assassinating the Emperor. Did that little eunuch consider the consequences? Did he consider that… whether or not he succeeded, his family in the village would all be wiped out?”
The carriage slowly began to move.
Su Wenmao saw that the Commissioner’s face was not pleased, and did not understand why. Assassination was a big crime. This time, the palace had already limited the circle of involvement. The fact that they didn’t involve all his close relations was already a benevolence.
“You are kind—but one cannot be generous in these matters,” Su Wenmao explained. “Only a few dozen people died.”
Fan Xian wasn’t one to fake his emotions, and his discomfort was for other reasons. “I am just disgusted that the eunuch only cared about revenge, and did not consider the kindness of his foster parent’s care.”
Su Wenmao was surprised and said after a moment, “To suggest something treasonous, the crime of killing a father is unforgivable. While that eunuch should suffer death by a thousand cuts and have his bones ground into powder and scattered, no one thought anything strange of his decision.”
Fan Xian was silent, but he laughed coldly in his heart. In the Qing Kingdom, starting with the Emperor, everyone stressed ruling through filial piety. The Qing law allowed for family to conceal for each other, and face no punishment. He furrowed his brows in deep disgust, but he could not say these things to the man beside him. He thought about how that eunuch had thrown away his foster parents’ hardships and grace in order to avenge his father’s death, and so committed his foster parents to certain death. Yet, people thought that was how things should be—what kind of bullsh*t logic was this?
They arrived at the Twenty-eight-Li Hill, and the carriage followed the long street in. The brightly-varnished store fronts along the street seemed to be welcoming Fan Xian’s arrival. The carriage rolled to a stop outside the Qingyu Hall. Before Su Wenmao had time to hand over their calling card, they heard squeaking sounds, and the long center door of the yard opened without hesitation, welcoming their arrival.
The 17 shopkeepers of Qingyu Hall were not in their own rooms or out at various manors doing accounting; they were all impeccably lined up at the entrance in welcome. Seeing Commissioner Fan stepping down from the carriage, the 17 people all knelt with a rustling sound and gave him a formal salute.
Fan Xian quickly invited these shopkeepers to rise. He glanced at the seventh person, whom he was familiar with, and smiled at him with a nod.
Shopkeeper Ye was nearly half a century old with an agreeable appearance. He knew that the gate was not somewhere to talk, and also did not understand how the young master would dare to come here in broad daylight. But he maintained his calm, and gestured with his hand, inviting Fan Xian to enter the hall and take a seat. He had the servants look after the other people. Only Gao Da and the two others shook their heads; they were loyal to the Emperor’s command and would not be separated from Fan Xian at all.
Fan Xian indicated with his eyes that Big Ye was not a problem and only then entered the hall. After taking a seat, he ordered Gao Da and the others to stand guard outside the door.
At this moment, there were no outsiders in the hall. The 17 shopkeepers were cowering, a bit scared, and a bit excited. The rumors outside said that this young official in front of them was a descendant of the Ye family… he was the son of the mistress! If this were true, then for Commissioner Fan to be here today meant he must have something urgent to say.
Because Fan Xian currently sat in a superior position, if he didn’t proclaim his own identity, then these shopkeepers in Qingyu Hall would not have the courage to hold his legs and sob.
Fortunately, Fan Xian did not allow the silence to go on for too long; after a moment of hesitation he said, “I am here today for that matter from one and a half years ago.”
Shopkeeper Ye had not expected Sir Fan junior to speak of this. He was very surprised and stared at him in shock.
Fan Xian smiled and explained, “Back then, I wanted my little brother, Sizhe, to be a disciple to the head shopkeeper. But you were too busy, and never told me to have my brother bring cured meats to your door. Currently, my good-for-nothing brother is out wandering somewhere—and so, naturally, we need not bring that up anymore. However, head shopkeeper, we talked about another matter at the time as well. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten that too.”
How could Big Ye forget?
That day, Fan Xian had secretly told him that he would control the palace treasury in the future, and had come to seek help from Qingyu Hall. He had also promised these people the possibility of leaving the capital. Fan Xian’s suggestion had made all the people in Qingyu Hall rather happy. If they could leave the capital, and continue the legacy left by their mistresses, then these shopkeepers would naturally be happy.
But they were terrified of the might of the Emperor, and they were also unable to determine whether or not Fan Xian had the ability to sway the palace. Most importantly, they didn’t know exactly what Fan Xian’s purpose was, or what he planned to do. And so, they had not sought Fan Xian to give an explanation of the matter.
Who knew that changes could be so wonderful? First, Fan Xian had suddenly become prominent in the last one and a half years, and was the most favored young official of the Qing Kingdom. His control of the palace treasury had also become a reality… and now there were rumors that he was the mistress’s son.
If this rumor were true, then Fan Xian’s reason for drawing Qingyu Hall to himself was obvious.
Big Ye coughed a couple of times and said with a serious expression, “Sir, we are all very willing… only, we don’t know whether or not the palace would allow it.” He didn’t question Fan Xian’s intentions, yet he continued to doubt his abilities.
Fan Xian began to smile, and nodded his head.
The noise in the hall exploded. The 17 mature, cool-headed shopkeepers revealed stunned and overjoyed expressions. Ever since the Ye family had fallen, they had been under house-arrest in the city, and were not allowed to leave. Hearing this good news, how could they control themselves?
Fan Xian took a sip of his tea and watched these 45-year-old shopkeepers smile innocently like children, and a sincere smile rose to his face as well. These people, because of his mother, had been trapped in the capital at their prime and could not free themselves. Now that he could do this for them, it was cheering indeed.
“Naturally, you cannot all go,” Fan Xian warned. “Your families have to stay in the capital.” The celebrating shopkeepers all stopped and listened to him continue talking. “After Jiangnan, you can take turns. Just think of it as a holiday. What does everyone think?”
Only then did everyone realize Sir Fan junior was joking. Surprised, everyone laughed loudly.
Fan Xian said a few more words of warning, reminding them to remember the Emperor’s kindness, to work hard for the court, and other bullsh*t like that. This bullsh*t was obviously for the benefit of the listening Tiger Guards outside the door. Only after this did he lower his voice and say, “Seventh Ye, I’ll have to trouble you to come with me this time. As for the rest of them, let them work it out for themselves… However, they must leave someone older in the capital.”
Seventh Ye was standing right beside him and he furrowed his brow in question.
Fan Xian smiled. “Baoyue Brothel is about to be emptied—you have to at least help me clean up a bit. For a place like that, it will have to be organized by an older, morally admirable man.”
Another corny joke. The shopkeepers set their faces and gave forced laughs. After a long while, the laughter finally calmed, and a different faint feeling grew in the hall.
In reality, the shopkeepers were not paying attention to what Fan Xian was saying; they were intently studying his appearance. They hoped to find familiar features in it. Although Fan Xian had not said anything about it today, his actions had already revealed enough. Including Shopkeeper Ye, all of them already believed he was the descendant of the Ye family.
In a moment of silence, with Shopkeeper Ye in front, and the 16 other shopkeepers lined up behind him, they faced Fan Xian sitting in the center and lifted their robes to kneel in unison.
“We will follow our young master’s instructions.”