Joy of Life - Chapter 352[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:33]
Chapter 352: A Whetstone With An Independent Consciousness
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The reason Fan Xian didn’t kill Hu Jinlin was simple. The Third Workshop had always been managed by the palace treasury with the Third Bureau of the Overwatch Council. They were specifically responsible for the research of advanced military technology. Furthermore, the Third Bureau of the Overwatch Council was originally Fan Xian’s brother- and sister-disciples, and he was particularly knowledgeable about the situation of the Third Workshop. Hu Jinlin was focused solely on studying the blueprints left by the mistress of the Ye family; his personality was silent and dull. Although he had gained a substantial amount of silver through corruption, he had never done things that Fan Xian could not forgive such as forcefully take land or take advantage of women.
Compared to the First and Second masters, there was indeed reason not to kill him. The most important reason was that Fan Xian didn’t want to kill.
The Third master was taken away, yet there were still many treasurers left in the workshop. The people met each other’s gazes. The strike had started. Everyone felt anxious, but they also had a measure of confidence. This was not the first time the treasurers as a group had gone in opposition to the court officials of the transport company. In the past, as long as their demands were not excessive, things could always be resolved peacefully. From their perspective, they only wanted to keep the silver they gained through exploitation and forceful extraction—a reasonable demand.
However, no one would have thought the new imperial envoy would be so ruthless. After he pointed out the nature of the palace treasury and invited out the four elderly Ye shopkeepers, the treasurers knew their trump cards had lost all effect in front of this young official. They had become a group of chicken’s waiting to see how many of them would be beheaded.
It wasn’t many. Following Su Wenmao’s naming and description of the crimes, another three treasurers were dragged from the crowd. These three had all done many evil deeds and had secretly colluded with Suzhou government officials. The matters that had passed through their hands broke countless lines of Qing law. Killing them 16 or 17 times over was not too much.
Fan Xian took the scroll from Su Wenmao and looked at the treasurer in front who had wet his pants and could barely stand steady. He furrowed his brows and said, “It is you who has 12 concubines?”
The treasurer didn’t even have the strength to nod. He was absolutely terrified.
Fan Xian shook his head and mocked, “To have 12 concubines only shows that you have a lot of money. There is a lot of faith between couples in bed. However, of the 12 concubines, nine of them were forcefully taken. This is outrageous. You stole other people’s wives and killed their husbands? Incredible, incredible…you are even more aggressive than the most famous playboys in Jingdou.”
Although the other two treasurers had not done such disgraceful things, there were good reasons for their death.
Fan Xian waved his hand.
The Overwatch Council officials dragged the three out. Following the sounds of three strikes and three wretched cries, three lives were thus wiped out.
The Overwatch Council officials were able to kill without a change in expression. The soldiers at the side of the workshop could also just about manage it; however, the officials of the palace treasury transport could not stand anymore. Their backs were soaked with sweat. Some who smelled the blood inside and outside of the workshop felt nauseated and wanted to throw up.
Deputy Ma Jie was fairly calm, but the sweat on his face began to drip down rapidly. Pitifully, he edged closer to Fan Xian and whispered, “Sir, the palace treasury is going to open for bidding a few days. Killing is unlucky…killing is unlucky…”
Ma Jie was worried that Fan Xian’s vicious nature might be activated and he would continue to kill.
Fan Xian smiled and said, “Sir Ma, don’t worry. Six years ago, my mother…when the Eldest Princess last came to the palace treasury personally, how many treasurers did she kill?”
He extended his thumb and pinky finger. “Six. I am of the younger generation. I will not kill more. I have already killed five. It is enough.”
Hearing the words “enough,” the officials behind him relaxed a little and the treasurers before him were overjoyed. But regardless of who, their legs were all soft from the fright of these five bloody heads. Only Su Wenmao was startled and suppressed the unhappiness in his heart. He didn’t say anything.
Deputy Ma Jie furrowed his brows thinking there was more to the imperial envoy’s words. The Eldest Princess killed six, so he only killed five…if things went wrong in the future and the Imperial Censorate accused him of using the law unjustly and randomly killed people, then he would have an excuse. It seemed that although this imperial envoy was young, his thoughts were meticulous. He could not miss this opportunity that his cousin Ren Shao’an had painstakingly laid out for him.
Having thought through this matter satisfactorily, he accepted Fan Xian’s following orders and measures without a thread of evasion or disagreement. Some of the officials of the palace treasury were not happy, but since the deputy had set the regulations, they could not object.
In Fan Xian’s plans, the three masters of the three large workshops were either dead or imprisoned. It emptied the three most important positions, which three of the old Ye family shopkeepers could deign to temporarily fill. Furthermore, for the next few days, the “traitor treasurers” who reported the crimes of their colleagues to the Overwatch Council would take the deputy positions to make up and fill in for the unfamiliarity of the old shopkeepers returning after 20 years.
Killing came first, and then the investigation of spies. Having sent this order down, the entire team of treasurers could be considered more stable. In the future, those traitor treasurers would only have to be wary of the dissatisfaction of the treasurers below them who would purposely pick on their mistakes. When they worked, they would have to be particularly careful. Once the team was established, these deputies would also become especially vicious and carefully watch the treasurers below them. The two sides would clash, and the situations that Fan Xian did not wish to see would gradually decrease.
“The three-day order still has half a day,” Fan Xian said. “The people who haven’t died must bring the money back and clear the accounts. Those who have committed a wrong, write a list yourself…don’t look at me, I know you are all literate. Everyone can return now. Some people’s workshops they should be at are a hundred li away. Why aren’t you rushing home to get the silver and then coming back to work? Are you just going to continue standing here like your stuck in mud?”
His voice became colder as he neared the end of this speech. Finishing this, he left toward the large workshop under the gazes of terrified treasurers.
The soldiers General Ye brought gradually dispersed. The Overwatch Council officials all went back to their own places. The spies that the Fourth Bureau had slipped in to the workshop remained unknown. The officials all talked privately among themselves. No one knew what they were talking about. The workers watched a big drama. The treasurers were particularly well-behaved and scared after being lectured by blood and fire.
The return of the silver by the treasurers and officials went smoothly. After Fan Xian checked everything over, he gently raised his noble hand. As long as they didn’t hide too much, he left all of them some face. He didn’t squeeze their family fortunes dry. People became officials for money. If they were completely scraped clean, they would be greatly preoccupied in their hearts even though they could not do anything about it. They would do things with laziness, and it would be impossible to increase their productivity.
With all five fingers spread and scrabbling in the silver, the yamen received an enormous amount of silver because of the three-day order. Even though Fan Xian’s family accumulated wealth through the generations and he had seen many spectacles, when he saw the number of the accounts, he still drew in a cold breath of shock.
He felt faint regret in his heart. This matter had become lively and impossible to hide from Jingdou. Under the eyes of the world, the silver brought back was used to clear the debts owed to the workers for their wages and the rest were put into the palace treasury’s special counting house. It was impossible for him to mobilize it personally.
If he knew earlier that the greediest officials in the world were in the palace treasury, perhaps Fan Xian would not have made the move to clean out the treasury. Rather, he would have directly had the swordsman of the Sixth Bureau of the Overwatch Council be thieves. Other than things like deeds, he could have taken the rest of the banknotes into his personal belongings.
He was in need of silver. If he had access to this enormous amount of silver, there would be no need to ask the North for help. That would avoid further problems developing during the process. Most importantly, it would allow his father to stand outside these events and prevent him from being implicated by the bidding matter in the future.
After the strike, Fan Xian returned to the manor and scolded Haitang severely. Other than being coldly righteous, he carefully analyzed the current situation and warned her that the Qing Emperor might already know they were in the same location. If she still dared to peek into the workshops in front of the Tiger Guards, then he probably wouldn’t be in his palace treasury position for long. If he wasn’t able to stay in the palace treasury, how much more money would Northern Qi have to spend every year?
Haitang felt slightly wronged. She was just bored and wanted to go out for a bit. How did it become connected to some cunning plot?
Fan Xian was a suspicious person. Although he didn’t mention this matter on the surface, he still felt uncomfortable.
Fortunately, all the palace treasury matters were gradually getting onto the right track in only a few days. It had to be said that the sight of Fan Xian coldly killing people during the strike deeply shocked everyone. The old shopkeepers’ re-emergence and Fan Xian’s clever arrangements all had a great effect.
The workers received the wages they had worked many years for, and the girls who had been forcefully taken were returned to their own homes. There was a joyous atmosphere that rose from the ground.
In the midst of the joy, there were some inharmonious notes. Although Fan Xian was detailed and had guessed some of this earlier, and thus had used the power of the government to suppress these wretched stories from happening, the story of the Qing people themselves and household affairs were complicated. The commoners found those women objectionable and forcefully said that they were used to having a good life with the treasurers and not used to a sudden change in situation.
The treasurers were not lewd demons of the night, and so there were not many cases of forcefully taking a concubine. However, even if there were very few cases, matters that involved men and women created a bad image in the public. Fan Xian thought hard about this matter but could not come up with any good ideas. Even an honest and upright official found it difficult to resolve family disputes. There was little he could do, so he could only put the matter aside.
However, this was an interlude. By and large the new manager of the palace treasury transport had already established his power. In the heart of the tens of thousands of low-level workers, Fan Xian’s image as an upright and plainspoken, uncorrupted, and brilliant man was solidly cast. Now he did not need the help of the Eighth Bureau. With his literary and martial name smoothly made, Fan Xian had long become familiar to such methods.
The palace treasury gradually became quiet.
Although the strike had ended, Fan Xian’s plan had only just began. Striking the snake to startle the snake, one half of the two-headed snake had been ruthlessly killed by him, and the other half would start moving now that it was injured.
“Is there news from Zi Yue?” Fan Xian asked casually as he sat in the chair and read reports from the Council with narrowed eyes.
Su Wenmao replied, “It won’t be this fast. As per your orders, even if those Xinyang officials sent the news out, this back and forth will take at least a few months.”
Fan Xian sighed. “The Imperial Censorates in the court are so slow to deal with matters.”
Su Wenmao gave a pained smiled. He wondered how there could be such a fierce character like the commissioner who waited for the Imperial Censorate to report him. But, he had strong backing, so he was able to sit as calm as a mountain.
“We can’t wait anymore. Seize those people tomorrow.” Fan Xian said.
The opponents in these words were the trusted aides that Xinyang had left in the palace treasury. At the beginning of the three-day order, they secretly provoked the treasurers’ emotions and provoked the people to oppose Fan Xian. After Fan Xian had demonstrated his blood methods, these officials were as happy as if they had eaten honeyed dates. Through the night they found a way to send out a memorial toward Jingdou, reporting to the officials of the Eldest Princess.
Fan Xian allowed the treasurers to communicate as they wanted during the three-day order. The final strike situation was for the purpose of having the pustule in the palace treasury grow in order to see clearly who was causing the trouble. Before and after the event, the spies of the Overwatch Council kept an alert watch on the officials within the transport company. These people had no way of escaping the news that Fan Xian had spread out.
“Make the move.” Fan Xian smiled bitterly. “We are all about to leave; we can’t leave them here to eat porridge.”
Su Wenmao acknowledged the order and asked with confusion, “Sir, why didn’t we seal the matter more tightly at the beginning? After all, this time it caused a strike. If this is discussed in Jingdou in court and Xinyang does some meddling, your days may…not be easy to pass.”
Fan Xian fell silent. His fingers gently tapped on the armrests of his chair. This was a common expression when he was thinking. He eventually decided to tell his confidant more, so he raised his head to explain. “The palace treasury is split into two parts. The workshops are the foundation, and the sale of the exports are the hands and legs. If I want to chop off the hands and legs, naturally, I have to first consolidate the foundation. Furthermore, I am not used to planning situations that take a long time, so that is why I chose to force the people of the palace treasury to act excessively first. Thus, I will be able to strike heavily and have an excuse to chase out the Xinyang officials.”
Su Wenmao nodded, although he was thinking that it did not answer his earlier question. Seeing the commissioner’s expression, he knew that Fan Xian had his reasons and listened patiently.
“I had to force the enemies in the palace treasury to make a move.” Fan Xian smiled slightly. “Does not the Eldest Princess often wait for me to force her? Given her eyes in court and the Royal Palace, how could she not know that I brought the old shopkeepers with me? Yet, she never told this matter to her officials in the palace treasury. It is clear that she didn’t want those officials to know my bottom line and be too afraid to…bravely stand out. Think about it. If everyone knew the old shopkeepers were with us, the strike this time would not have happened.”
“Naturally, it would not have happened.” Su Wenmao furrowed his brows and said, “If they knew that you had the Qingyu Hall elders with you, then those treasurers’ trump card would fail and they would not have the daring to criticize. But the question is m…why would the Eldest Princess hold back this information and wait for the palace treasury officials to connect in secret, thus giving you a great opportunity to establish your power? If she had made everything clear, then the treasurers would have been much better behaved. Those Xinyang officials would have calmed down and not allowed us to find any excuses.”
Fan Xian shook his head and sighed. “The Eldest Princess stands higher than all the others. You are right. It appears that she has given me an opportunity to establish my power and has even allowed me to intimidate the officials in the palace treasury. However, in the method of dealing with this matter, I had to borrow more people and power from the old Ye family. I must kill to establish myself, so my methods appear more aggressive and ruthless.”
He continued to explain, “On my first trip in to the palace treasury I have killed five treasurers. Once this gets to Jingdou, the court will certainly not think well of me. As for using the old shopkeepers to control the palace treasury, this more touches on the taboos of some people in the Royal Palace. The Eldest Princess has kept the lid on this pot of porridge. When it has come to a rolling boil, it appears that she is allowing me to eat it, but in reality she has the intention of burning my mouth.”
Su Wenmao worriedly said, “It is as you say, when you were dealing with strike that day, your words seemed to touch on some taboos.”
Fan Xian smiled and didn’t say anything.
Su Wenmao’s face was heavy. “After the news of waiting for the strike, killing, and the old shopkeepers have traveled back to Jingdou, no matter what the court will berate you. Speaking on the lighter side, your actions are impulsive and careless, not…”
He abruptly stopped. Fan Xian smiled and continued, “Not to be used for important matters? Speaking on the heavier side, they could secretly accuse me of having wayward intentions and remembering the past days of the Ye family, and so on so forth.”
Su Wenmao was shocked. He understood what Commissioner Fan’s biggest taboo in life was. He couldn’t help sucking in a cold breath. It was at this moment that he finally felt the power of the Eldest Princess’ method. The other party did not do anything. She only quietly kept Fan Xian’s secret that the old shopkeepers were going south and was thus able to place Sir at the opening of a dangerous volcano.
“Since Sir knew clearly her plan…then you should have brought out the old shopkeepers at the first opportunity. Their actions would have been more careful.” He gathered his courage and admonished Fan Xian.
Fan Xian shook his head and said, “The Eldest Princess calculated that I had to allow the conflict to escalate, so as to be able to take control of the palace treasury as quickly as possible. As for the rest of the waves, I can’t care about that for now. Thus on this point, even if she was watching coldly from Jingdou, I had to do it.”
He laughed coldly. “As for me digging out her trusted officials in the palace treasury…I’m sure she knows clearly that with the help of the Overwatch Council, these people won’t be of any use for the next few years. On the contrary, they will only bring her trouble that she does not want. Since they are already useless people, then why should she care about their life or death? They are only a few abandoned pieces to bring me some trouble before their death, and that is all. No matter what she does, she will not be able to stop me taking complete control. The Eldest Princess obviously wished to see some trouble as I took over and bring me some hidden worries for the future.”
The so-called hidden worries in his words was, naturally, the understanding the nobility in the Palace had of Fan Xian, this may cause undergo some slight changes because of the palace treasury matter. Who knew whether or not the coldness Fan Xian showed when dealing with the palace treasury would touch on that sensitive nerve of the empress dowager’s, would it remind the empress and the Crown Prince in the Eastern Palace of the Ye family back in the day?
Thinking of this things was like a venomous snake eating at one’s spirit. Before Fan Xian had enough strength to defeat them, perhaps they would have raised their alertness. The empress dowager, the Eldest Princess, and the empress of this group of back palace women, and the Crown Prince and Second Prince were like a pair of loving but quarrelsome couple. If they joined together again because of Fan Xian’s existence, or if the Emperor was to develop some kind of suspicion against Fan Xian, then it would be time for the Eldest Princess to laugh and Fan Xian to cry.
In this matter of the palace treasury, because he had the shopkeepers in hand and thus the world, the Eldest Princess had to accept this reality. She only wanted to derive some kind of benefit from it.
“What do we do now?”
Fan Xian lowered his head and said without emotion, “Nothing. In the director’s words, the Eldest Princess’ gaze remains limited to one palace. If the Imperial Censorate really accused me this time, she would probably only suffer a loss.”
Su Wenmao looked at him and found it difficult to understand.
Fan Xian raised his head and a confident smile rose to his face. “Since the Emperor has given the old shopkeepers to me, that means for a short period of time he believes in my loyalty. My trip to Jiangnan to take over the palace treasury is a loss of face for the Eldest Princess. If she maintains her silence at this time, then everything is fine. If I have any trouble when taking over the palace treasury and the officials in Jingdou rise as a group to attack me, the Emperor can’t help but feel a little suspicious. As for the problem of the old Ye family, on the contrary, it will not affect me to any large degree.”
Fan Xian smiled and continued, “I want to quickly cook this pot of porridge that is the palace treasury. The Eldest Princess likes for me to use an aggressive flame, and I hope she will secretly help me us an aggressive flame. Although my actions in the palace treasury are impudent with much to be suspicious about, I have not purposely try to hide it. The Emperor will believe in my sincerity. However, although the Eldest Princess stands to the side with a cold gaze, she acts out her trickery without permission. This is the so-called insincerity.”
He finally explained, “Any move for power, at the end stage, depends only on the Emperor’s mood and intimacy, and I have always been open and honest.”
Who knew if this line was to convince Su Wenmao or to deceive himself? In this battle, Fan Xian knew with certainty the son-in-law must obtain the victory. As a son, he must also obtain victory.
After the Emperor had established the Second Prince as an enemy against the Crown Prince, he has successfully established Fan Xian has the valiant whetstone.
The Eldest Princess could only see Fan Xian growing stronger and more insubordinate, putting the two princes, empress dowager, and empress in the back palace under pressure. She did not see that this kind of pressure was secretly nurtured by the Emperor of the Qing Kingdom himself. This was the line that Fan Xian had borrowed from Chen Pingping to say earlier: the Eldest Princess’ gaze remained limited.
It was not the limitations of history, but the limitations of a seat. After all, she did not sit on the dragon chair with kings under her eye.