Joy of Life - Chapter 346[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:30]
Chapter 346: The Way A Gentleman Obtains Wealth
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The sky was big, and the earth was big, but none were greater than a gentleman. Without the gentleman, the teacher was leader. If the teacher traveled far, then the gentleman[JW1] was the greatest leader. The so-called gentleman was not the opposite of the mean man[JW2], rather it was the proper son of the gentleman. That is to say, the person who was still small, the Third Prince, was currently the biggest leader in Suzhou. Thus, Shi Chanli was not worried about much. After pretending to be distressed for a moment, he finally agreed to the prince’s requests.
The Third Prince fiercely ordered the housemaids and eunuchs, who had just been chased out of the palace, to stay in the manor. He then casually took Shi Chanli and a few guards and left the manor. Seeing the little master disappear beyond the door, the eunuchs and housemaids began to shake with fear. They thought that without the commissioner present, everything had turned on its head. They couldn’t resist offering up a prayer for the commissioner to hurry back. How could they guess that it was originally Fan Xian who wanted to borrow the Third Prince’s identity to put pressure on people?
It was rare for the Third Prince to have an opportunity like this to play, so he was not in a rush. The group of people changed their outfits, disguising themselves as the young masters of a wealthy family. Shi Chanli, with fear, accepted the role of older brother. The Third Prince was naturally the younger brother. Sitting in the carriage, they went around Suzhou and saw many scenes. They also saw a few pleasure boats on the lake. Only then did the Third Prince’s interest begin to wane.
“The weather is too cold, and the girls are wearing too much. How can we see the romance?” With an air of nobility, the young master furrowed his brows. “Let’s choose the place first. I’ll have to put some effort into the business Fan Xian wants to do, otherwise if I tell him you just took me around randomly he will probably be angry.”
Shi Chanli secretly celebrated. It should have been like this long ago.
The problem of choosing a location was easily solved. They just had to find where in Suzhou was the liveliest. The group of people pushed their way in and found the busiest street in the area. They then looked around a bit and found there were already many brothels; this was already a developed hot area. With this, they set their general direction.
In this large area of the city, they examined whichever building had the best appearance and looked into whichever building appeared the most impressive. This group easily found their match. It was a restaurant that took up the best location on the street. It was a spacious and extravagant three-story building. The yard wall could be faintly seen in the back, and it took up a lot of land.
The Third Prince waved his little hand. “No need to keep looking. I think this one is the best.”
Shi Chanli was unspeakably delighted. Managing Baoyue Brothel in Jingdou, he had been in business for a little while, but he had never thought that taking the prince to pick an address could be efficient to this extent. When doing things with money and power, it was indeed clean and tidy.
However, as he stood in front of the restaurant, he had a thought and said in a small voice, “This place is too conspicuous. I think there has to be some background to this.”
The Third Prince paused and asked, “Whose family background is bigger than mine in this world?”
Shi Chanli opened his mouth wide and couldn’t say anything for a while. He forced down a mouthful of blood and carefully spoke, “What if the governor has shares or the inspector general? Although I don’t care, we do need to give these officials some face.”
Although the Third Prince was young, he was not a foolish person. He realized this was indeed the case. Governor Xue Qing was not someone he could lightly offend. Besides, he and his people had come all the way from Jingdou, it would not look good to take face away from major Jiangnan officials.
As he looked at the location of this restaurant, the more he looked, the more he wanted. The more he gazed, the better it looked. He furrowed his thin brows and thought for a while before saying, “We should still ask. If we let such a perfect location pass, even if Fan Xian won’t feel bad about it, I’ll feel heart sore for days.”
This group had been standing outside the restaurant for a while. They had only been paying attention to the structure and were blocking the entrance. They weren’t buying, only looking. As they stood outside the door pointing and whispering secretively, they immediately drew the attention of the people on the street. The people saw that their clothes were bright and guards were strong. They didn’t look like people of the jianghu, so the merchants on the street restrained their gossip-loving hearts.
However, the shopkeeper of the restaurant was forced to go out. Pushing a professional smile on his face he asked, “Sirs, would you like to come in to try our restaurant’s signature dish? This is the Zhuyuan Restaurant. Along with the Jiangnan Inn, we are known together as the Suzhou Two. We do have some very good food.”
He saw that the group in front of him came from somewhere else. Their identities shouldn’t be vulgar, thus he treated them carefully. Naturally, the Zhuyuan Restaurant had a background, but this merchant had a clever and nimble heart. He only talked business. Nothing in his speech showed any sense of accusing them of blocking the building.
Shi Chanli was startled and said with a warm smile, “We are really very sorry. We weren’t paying attention just then. Please don’t take offense.”
The shopkeeper quickly replied that he was too kind. The Third Prince did not have the patience for the slow pace. “Let’s go in and sit down before we talk.” He then led the group of people in to the building. At the end he tossed out another order, “Shopkeeper, arrange for a quiet room. There are some things I would like to inquire about.”
The shopkeeper paused, thinking the older brother hadn’t spoken, so how come he rushed ahead? Shi Chanli coughed a few times to cover it up and followed him into the building.
The group had not yet taken their seats in one of the room before the shopkeeper entered to personally look after them. The Third Prince didn’t waste words. “Shopkeeper, are you selling this building?”
The shopkeeper had been surprised many times today. He thought that this young master’s attitude was not small, but he had dealt with countless difficult situations in his life and so he smiled respectfully. “Young master, at the moment, this building is doing good business. It doesn’t seem like the owner has thoughts to sell it.”
“Pray ask, what is the owner’s surname?” Shi Chanli was quietly angry at His Highness’ impatience and asked in a warm, even tone.
Neither servile nor overbearing, the shopkeeper replied, “The owner’s surname is Qian.”
After the shopkeeper left, Shi Chanli frowned and said, “This is our first trip to Suzhou. We don’t know anything about the connections in Suzhou. We have no idea who this Qian person is.”
The Third Prince stood up and pushed open the window in the room. He started unconsciously, as if he had seen something strange.
Shi Chanli felt curious and stood behind him to see out the window. He was momentarily stunned in place.
They saw the back garden of the Zhuyuan Restaurant. Incredibly there was a flat lake in the garden. Although the lake was not wide, it was quiet and secluded. The two walls of the garden separated it from the noisy market. The grass in the garden was not yet green, but it was easy to see how beautiful the scene would be in spring.
Both of then sighed at the same time. The comparison here was of course between the design behind this building and that of the Baoyue Brothel in Jingdou. If they built a few quiet and secluded yards on the grass, it would a twin of the Baoyue Brothel in Jingdou.
Seeing the back garden of the Zhuyuan Restaurant, both the former and later managers of the Baoyue Brothel were swayed enormously—they had to buy this building.
With great mutual understanding, the Third Prince and Shi Chanli both spoke at the same time again. They laughed out loud. The rest of the matter was simple. After they went back, they would think of a way to investigate the Zhuyuan Restaurant’s background. They only hoped there wouldn’t be anyone too strong in the background. If it involved officials who were too high ranking, things would become rather complicated
The Third Prince was so young, so where did all his sighs come from? “If Fan Sizhe was here, he would probably sue the owner of this restaurant. He would point his finger at their nose and say the other person shamelessly copied his design.”
Shi Chanli thought for a bit. The second young master Fan did indeed have that kind of personality. He couldn’t help huffing out a laugh.
“What’s so funny?” The Third Prince gave him a glare. “That cousin of mine is even darker than the older cousin…of course, neither of them are kind souls. They forcefully used a crafty escape plan, bullying me because of my youth, and cheated me of my shares. Don’t forget, you played a part in this too!”
Shi Chanli shrank back and did not dare comment.
The group of people had a meal in the room. They greatly approved of the chef’s abilities. It inspired the Third Prince to want to take the chef along with the building.
After they finished eating and were about to leave, the shopkeeper had urgently come back to their room. With a face full of sweat, he saluted them again. As he wiped away sweat he said in a small voice, “Sirs, could we discuss your earlier offer to buy the building again?”
The Third Prince and his group were curious. It was clear that this building’s business was booming. Furthermore, when this topic was brought up earlier, it was clear that the other party had defenses. How come his attitude had changed so much?
Shi Chanli asked, “Shopkeeper, what do you mean?”
The shopkeeper laughed hollowly and said, “The owner heard of this matter earlier and thought that since the business has not been as good as previous years, he might as well let it go if there were guests offering a price. He only hoped that the guests would give an appropriate price. The other thing was…he hoped that after this building changed hands, the guests would manage it well.”
Shi Chanli found it strange and was just about to ask more questions, when the Third Prince got ahead and smiled sweetly, “Naturally. We are also business people. Of course we will manage this building well. Only, you mentioned an appropriate price earlier. I wonder what price would be considered appropriate?”
The room immediately became silent.
The shopkeeper froze. He wondered if this young master was asking him to set the price. The owner hadn’t given instructions. How could he give a price? It seemed the owner intended to offer it up with both hands, but the other party didn’t seem to realize this.
The sweat on his forehead came faster, and his face reddened as if the chill of spring had turned into the hottest months of the year. After a long while, the shopkeeper finally gathered enough courage and extended four fingers.
Shi Chanli paused. The guards in the room paused too, thinking, 40,000 liang? No matter how famous the lion heads[JW3] were here, no lion opened its mouth that wide.
Seeing the other party didn’t comment, the shopkeeper felt a bit scared and quickly drew back three of the fingers, leaving just one solitary finger standing.
Shi Chanli almost spat again. This price drop was truly strange. He didn’t have to say anything and the price dropped from 40,000 liang to 10,000 liang in the blink of an eye. After some thought, he felt that this price was pretty good. He nodded and said, “Although 10,000 liang isn’t much…but…”
The shopkeeper’s legs went soft and he almost cried, “Sir, you have it wrong, wrong.”
Shi Chanli was surprised, “Wrong about what?”
“It’s…1,000 liang,” The shopkeeper managed to squeeze out an innocent smile. “Not 10,000 liang.”
Shi Chanli swallowed back his third mouthful of blood today. Before he had time to say anything, the Third Prince said, “Bring the contract.” Looking at his expression, he seemed to have come prepared.
The shopkeeper immediately went out to invite in the government-approved middleman into the room and began to write the contract. When it came to write the price of the deal, the Third Prince smiled sweetly and said, “16,000 liang. I won’t take advantage of you. I’ll give you two-tenths of the silver because I think the owner probably doesn’t want to sell. Consider the two-tenths a comfort fee.”
Although the Third Prince wore common clothing today, he naturally showed a noble air. The shopkeeper was greatly surprised, but he didn’t dare comment further. Having finished writing the contract, both sides put their fingerprints to it and agreed to deliver the goods and settle the bill tomorrow at the bank.
After carefully seeing this group of people out of the restaurant, the shopkeeper let out a breath. He wiped at the cold sweat on his forehead with some fear and walked into a quiet room on the third floor after he head steadied his spirit. He then handed the contract to a young man.
This young man’s face was upright and honorable. His eyes were warm and spirited. It was indeed the young master of the Ming family who had appeared at the Loushang Tower beside the West Lake, Ming Lanshi.
He received the contract and scanned it, hatred and disappointment flashed through his eyes before he turned his hand around and slapped him. With a clap, the shopkeeper covered his face with his hand and looked fearfully at the young master, not knowing what he had done wrong.
“Useless bastard!” Ming Lanshi’s heart was filled with anger, although his face stayed calm. A chill crept into his words. “You can’t even manage to give away silver!”
He was here by a happy coincidence today. After the family meeting, Ming Shilan had remained in Suzhou. Hearing that the shopkeeper said that someone wanted to buy the building, and hearing the descriptions of their appearance and clothing, this heir to the Ming family hazily guessed a few things. Afterward, a busboy overheard the name Fan Sizhe. He immediately confirmed their identities. He reacted quickly and prepared to offer Zhuyuan Guan with both hands.
Unexpectedly, the other party didn’t take any advantages. 16,000 liang of silver was not a small sum.
Not only did this sum not take any advantage, it was actually quite a bit higher than the market value. How could this sum make a difference for the Ming family? Ming Shilan had wanted to take advantage of the fact that the Third Prince did not yet know who the owner was to first give away the building, even if it was at a low price.
His main purpose was, of course, to curry favor with the other party. If the other party didn’t acknowledge this favor in the future…with this one contract sent to Jingdou, it would be evidence of Fan Xian and the Third Prince forcefully buying public property. When the Eldest Princess wanted to make a case before the Emperor it, would be easy to find an excuse.
Unexpectedly, that young Third Prince refused to take this advantage. Were the rumors from Jingdou wrong? This prince was not as greedy and ruthless as they said.
Ming Shilan sank into deep thought. He once again realized that the people his family had to face this time were hard to fathom. He closed his eyes and thought deeply for a while before quietly ordering, “Sir Fan’s intentions are simple. We wants to open a brothel. Send the order down no one is allowed to sell girls to him, no matter how high the price!”
The shopkeeper made a sound of acknowledgement. Shortly after he gave a pained smiled and said, “Young master, if it is only our family that doesn’t sell girls…there are many in this line of business in Suzhou. Those people will for sure not want to offend Sir Fan.”
“Do they have any good girls on their hands?” Ming Shilan asked. “The good girls are all in our hands…let them go buy. How can a few leftovers attract customers?”
A carriage left the Zhuyuan Restaurant. The merchants around did not know that the Ming family had suffered such a loss. The most famous restaurant in Suzhou was about to change hands tomorrow. Although Shi Chanli rarely did shady things, at this moment he finally realized, and furrowed his brow to say, “Your Highness, it seems like the other party knew of your identity.”
A look of annoyance flashed across the Third Prince’s face that was still childishly innocent. “They’re somewhat smart then.”
Shi Chanli thought about it and couldn’t resist opening his mouth to ask, “Your Highness, the price they asked for earlier was 1,000 liang, why…”
“Why would I raise the price myself?” The Third Prince smiled coldly. “Anyone who is unaccountably solicitous is hiding evil intentions. Having guessed my identity, they were happy to offer this building with both hands, but what about the future? What they request will probably not be as simple as this building. If others bring their smiling face close, of course we cannot turn out hands and strike, but we also do not have to put our face close to join them. How many people in this world have the right to try and gain my friendship?”
Shi Chanli shook his head. “I wonder who the owner behind that restaurant is; they saw an opportunity very quickly.”
The Third Prince replied, “Who cares who the other party is? If they want me to take advantage of them, then they certainly want to take advantage of me. You have to remember this, when you go out in the future don’t randomly take advantage of other people, be careful of causing trouble for Fan Xian.”
Shi Chanli felt incredible admiration in his heart for this little prince, he praised, “Your Highness’ words are simple, but carry deep meaning.”
In a clear and young voice, the Third Prince cursed, “Don’t fawn on me. I finally had the chance to dress as a commoner and I was recognized.”
Shi Chanli thought the prince was so young, yet he wanted to buy the building from the first step in. How was this the attitude of someone who wanted to conceal their identity? He also considered how the prince could resist taking an advantage worth tens of thousands of liang. It seemed very different from the initial ruthless personality he dealt with at Baoyue Brothel. Involuntarily, suspicion flashed through his eyes.
He didn’t know if the Third Prince had seen his expression, so he continued to speak, “Fan Xian once said, if I take advantage of the people in this world, the people will eventually take advantage of the court, and if I let people take advantage of the court, then I am a huge idiot who willingly gives out silver for other people to spend.”
Shi Chanli was silent. He was secretly worried for his teacher. As a prince, to have this kind of belief indicated that the interests of the court would be the prince’s own interests in the future. What did this represent?
The Crown Prince was still in place.
Not noticing Shi Chanli’s internal alarm, the Third Prince smiled shyly and said, “Teacher has said before, gentlemen[JW4] love wealth and have their ways of obtaining it, but the wealth of a ruler is stored under heaven. What need is there to obtain it?”
Shi Chanli swallowed back his fourth mouthful of blood from an internal injury. His eyes were fixed on the constantly fluttering banners. He forcefully repressed the faint fear in his heart, pretending he had never heard these words.
“Doing business can be a hobby.” The Third Prince chuckled. “Old Shi, your boldness is much less than that of my two cousins. You’re not suited to doing business.”
Shi Chanli moved his body slightly, allowing the damp cloth on his back to air out a little. He gave a pained smile and said, “Your Highness is right.”
The Third Prince called for the carriage to stop. “We’ve arrived at the money house. You go and do your business. I’ll go back to the manor first.”
A sinister smile rose on the child’s face. Who knew what he was pleased about?
Watching the carriage drive away, Shi Chanli quietly let out a breath. He called for the two guards with him to wait outside while he tidied his clothes and walked into a branch of Taiping money house.
Although the doorway of the new money house was desolate, it exuded an air of new nobility. That brand new green banner seemed to be mocking Shi Chanli’s inflexibility and ignorance.
Far away from Suzhou, a large group of carriages with hundreds of people were making difficult passage in the dark and cold rainy days of the beginning of spring.
The department of palace treasury transport was not the same as the department of salt or department of tea. It had more business and bigger profits, furthermore, it was the only department with an actual transport department. All of the palace treasury production came from workshops and needed a vast area. Many years ago, the court marked out a piece of land to the north that gradually became a special zone. Its size was bigger than a small province, and its position was very special. Due to worries that the industrial arts of the production in the palace treasury would flow outside of the country, the Qing court put down blood capital on the work of protecting the palace treasury.
For the palace treasury territory, Qing Kingdom went with a completely sealed management technique. There were five blockade lines. The outermost one was the local Jiangnan navy and sailors. Of the inner four, the Qing Kingdom army and Overwatch Council each devised two. They supervised each other, layered like a multi-level fruit cake.
Other than the visible strict supervision on the outgoing transport line, there were numerous spies scattered along the way. Countless pairs of eyes watched the light from the shadows wondering if they watched the Ming family, the Cui family, or the representative of some other giant merchant.
Even though the Qing Kingdom had gone to such lengths, they still could not prevent the greedy gazes of other countries. In these decades, the palace treasury had countless incidences, and the Qing Kingdom had paid a great price for them. First and foremost was the silver needed to feed the army and guards each year. Of lesser note were the thousands of lives that had been lost for the wealth and glory of the Qing Kingdom—stealing intelligence reports and the fight of counter commercial spying was unusually bloody in this world.
This battle seemed like it would never end, and the Overwatch Council was the organization that paid the most in the battle. Who knew how many spies died in the darkness of the night? At least they ensured that up to today the palace treasury was safe.
The previous organizer of the Fourth Bureau, Yan Ruohai, and the older brother of the current Jingdou garrison Qing Heng, Qing Shan, were the two major people behind the arrangement of the original defenses. The two had once boasted that given the strength of the palace treasury, other than being unable to stand up against a great grandmaster, even a mosquito stained with perfume wouldn’t be able to fly out.
The group of carriages were being checked through the last inspection. Fan Xian opened the curtain on the window and saw the hydraulic machine not far away beside the flowing river. He narrowed his eyes. Although it was only the rough beginnings of work, it was clear that the power of its movement could not leave the water.
A slight coldness appeared in his narrowed eyes. Without turning around he said warmly, “I have brought you here only for my personal safety. I do not wish for you to go to each workshop to see what is happening. If you are discovered by someone, I shouldn’t have to tell you how serious the consequences will be. Even though you are a super powerful martial artists above the ninth-level, you may still not escape if the powers here give chase. Furthermore, although my injury has only half-recovered, I will also strike.”
Behind him, Haitang, disguised as a servant girl, smiled slightly. She looked at Sisi beside her and didn’t say anything.
[JW1]”君子” which translates, usually, into gentleman, however, it can also be translated more literally as “the son of a gentleman,” which is a pun coming up.
[JW2]”小人” usually translates to “mean man” or “base man” (in comparison to the gentleman), but also literally translates to “small man/person,” hence the pun that the Third Prince is a small person.
[JW3]狮子头– lion’s head. A kind of gigantic meatball, and “to open one’s mouth wide” is to ask for a lot.
“君”– ruler. A clever play on words in Mandarin. It doesn’t affect meaning.