Joy of Life - Chapter 353

[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:33]
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Chapter 353: Some Things Can Be Done But Not Said

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

By mid-March, spring had long since swept across the world. Regardless of whether it was Shangjing in the North or Jingdou in the South, they were all enveloped by a flourishing scene. In Jiangnan, the crystal-clear waters undulated, the green mountains shadowed each other, and the willows along the river pushed out their tender new branches. They all fully embodied the word “vitality.”

The palace treasury was southwest of Jiangnan Road, and it could not escape the blessings of nature. In only a few days, up and down the river and outside of the workshops, shoots of green grass began to slowly grow. Light pink flowers adorned the slightly dry and dusty yamen and workshop. It greatly lessened the harsh and cold atmosphere.

Amidst the peace and harmony, officials going to the yamen to receive their assignments had faces full of smiles and raised their hands in greeting. Now that the bloody rains had passed, the imperial envoy was going back to Suzhou to host the spring opening bidding. The mood of officials was relaxed.

Opening the court to discuss matters, Fan Xian sat in the center seat and spoke briefly about arrangements for the coming days. However, there were no trusted aides at his and much of what he said was quite standard. For example, other than reviewing the articles of the Qing law in making arrangements for various workshops, the special regulations the court had revised for the palace treasury couldn’t be violated.

No matter whether it was wages or officials’ salaries, they had to be passed down promptly. The day-to-day maintenance of law and order and defensive work also needed to be done more vigilantly. The officials agreed to whatever the imperial envoy said. With the vision of five headless bodies from before, no one was stupid enough to clash with him face to face.

Fan Xian arranged for Su Wenmao to remain behind, except he did not have a position in the transport company. Fan Xian temporarily shifted his jurisdiction into the Fourth Bureau. Together with Dan Da, they led the Overwatch Council spies in the palace treasury.

The officials knew that after Fan Xian finished hosting the spring opening of the palace treasury in Suzhou, he would make his home in Hangzhou. This was a practice established many years ago so the transport company manager did not live in the palace treasury. Thus, Su Wenmao who remained in the palace treasury, essentially became the representative of the imperial envoy. The officials dared not be irreverent, so they quickly stood and greeted Su Wenmao.

As the greetings were exchanged, Fan Xian furrowed his brows. He quietly said to Deputy Ma Jie beside him, “The matter we talked about last night; I am about to do it.”

This was a superfluous show of respect toward the deputy, however, Ma Jie’s face looked pained as he shook his head.

Sitting on Fan Xian’s right hand, a strange light flashed through General Ue’s eyes. He didn’t know what the imperial envoy was up to. He hadn’t been informed him, but his questions were quickly answered.

Smiling insincerely, Su Wenmao walked to the front of the hall. He raised his hands in greeting. “Today, we have made certain acts undertaken by some palace treasury officials illegal…those who mobilized treasurers to cause trouble and rocked the foundations of the palace treasury. Apologies to all for the offence.”

Following the apology, seven or eight Overwatch Officials came in from the side of the yamen and openly and rudely asked a few of the seated officials to leave their seats, then rudely removed their official’s hat.

These officials became angry. As they refused, they berated, “You are too daring!”

The other officials who it wasn’t aimed at relaxed a little, but they knew the methods of the Overwatch Council. In front of the Overwatch Council, the Qing Court civil ministers were in a natural alliance. They quickly stood up and asked Fan Xian, “Sir, what is this for?”

In reality, none of them were stupid; they knew. The officials who had their official’s hat removed by order of Fan Xian were all trusted aides the Eldest Princess had planted in the palace treasury. The imperial envoy’s action was nothing more than uprooting the previous person and replanting his own seedlings. This still concerned the officials. To aggressively take people in the yamen left the officials nowhere to hang their face. It was understandable they had to argue a bit with Fan Xian.

Fan Xian glanced at the officials and said warmly, “There is no need to be suspicious, and there is no need to ask for mercy. I will definitely be taking down these officials.”

To his right sat General Ye, who had an unpleasant expression. He glanced at Deputy Ma Jie beside him and saw that although he was hiding the awkwardness with difficulty, there was no expression of surprise in his eyes. He had probably been notified by Fan Xian last night. General Ye’s mood became gloomy. He said in a muffled voice, “Sir, these officials had worked the transport company for a long time and dedicated themselves selflessly to public duties. To just take them like this, perhaps…it will be difficult to explain.”

Fan Xian glanced at him, and then smiled and said, “Dedicated themselves selflessly to public duties? I’m afraid that likely is not the case.”

General Ye’s expression was slightly heavy. “Even if they have occasionally acted inappropriately, you gave out the three-day order and these men followed and done as ordered. You said clearly that no one would be punished, so they should not be punished.”

Fan Xian lowered his head. He knew why General Ye and the other officials had jumped out to oppose him today. The reason was actually quite simple. When he suppressed the strike, the general knew that he could not hold back his methods and the hat he used to suppress him was sufficiently large. The court could not afford to have the palace treasury not working for a day. However, taking down the officials today touched on a sensitive line. They were scared that the dual positioned Overwatch Council commissioner and imperial envoy would use this as an excuse to weave a large net and overturn the entire transport company.

For General Ye, his family had already been forced heavily. Adding to the fact was Ye Ling’er’s relationship to the Second Prince, so they were already faint signs of them leaning that way. Although General Ye had never received any secret messages from the Ye family in Dingzhou, he knew that Fan Xian was capturing people today to dig out the Eldest Princess’ trusted aides in the palace treasury. He instinctively wanted to keep something for the Eldest Princess. In case Fan Xian expanded his power in the palace treasury, General Ye was worried that his future would not be a smooth one.

Fan Xian did not explain anything. He simply took out a scroll from his robes and handed it to General Ye.

General Ye was surprised and accepted the scroll. He spread it open. His expression gradually darkened as he read it. On the scroll was listed all the shameful and illegal wrongdoings of the officials being captured. The crimes were not focused on the so-called bribery matter, rather they zeroed in on the inglorious roles these officials played on the jianghu. All of the evidence, even the confessions of the traitorous treasurers, were clear. It listed which official spoke at which time to which treasurers and what was said. The places and names were all written clearly. The strike description was extremely accurate, and it was truly a superior move by the Overwatch Council.

Looking at the lines of evidence, the general began to develop a chill in his heart. This imperial envoy had only been in the palace treasury a few days, so how could he have investigated all of the secrets of the transport company so clearly? Furthermore, how could the people of the Overwatch Council know so clearly the conversations between Xinyang’s trusted aides and the treasurers? Was it to say that there were Overwatch Council spies within the palace treasury itself? Thinking of this, General Ye remembered the rumors of the Overwatch Council terrors—spies described as night vipers who found their way in through any crevasse. Involuntarily he began to worry about himself and his own manor. Would there be Overwatch Council spies in there?

As a general in charge of the palace treasury defenses, he was not particularly afraid of the Overwatch Council. First of all, he was a Third-level official, and the Overwatch Council did not have the power to investigate him without applying for an edict. Second, as a member of the military, he was not part of any faction. Looking at the power of the Qing Kingdom army, the Overwatch Council had to give him some face. In terms of the jianghu, General Ye speculated that his performance was decent. Today truly involved the matter of the Eldest Princess’ face as well as the matter of the princes in Jingdou. He resisted the unease in his heart and stood up. He saluted Fan Xian and said sincerely, “Sir, this…”

After all, he had the identity of a leader and wasn’t sure how to organize the words to ask for mercy. Fan Xian smiled and look at him. He shook his head and said, “There is no need to ask for mercy.”

General Ye was terrified that Dingzhou had not sent any messages. He did not know which side to stand on, thus he sunk himself into a position between a rock and a hard place. However, Fan Xian moved first, so he gritted his teeth and gathered up his courage to speak. “But Sir, these people are all officials of the transport company. Are you taking them in as the manager of the transport company or as the commissioner of the Overwatch Council?”

He lowered his voice and said, “Sir, even as an imperial envoy and all the evidence is present, if the case is to be tried, the court still needs a few days to open. This…the palace treasury is about to open.”

Fan Xian glanced at him and was slightly surprised by his daring. He thought about it and understood. If he wanted to take in these officials, the identity under which he did so was important. If he used the identity of the Overwatch Council commissioner to investigate the case, then it could incite discussions in court once it got back to Jingdou. The court elders would likely think he was targeting the Eldest Princess and so on. If he used the manager of the transport company identity or that of the imperial envoy, he didn’t have the time to drag it out.

But, who was Fan Xian? Why would he care about the discussions in Jingdou? He smiled and said, “General Ye, don’t worry too much. I have always believed in the Qing law and would not do things carelessly. Today, I am taking in this officials. For the sake of being fair, I will not try these officials myself.”

General Ye was startled and thought: As long as it is not you personally trying the case, no matter who tries will always look at which way Jingdou leans. Having received Fan Xian’s promise, he now had an explanation for Jingdou, so he mumbled and retreated. He was only curious about why Fan Xian was not trying the case personally. Was he going to shut these officials in the palace treasury? They couldn’t always be kept shut away. The court would eventually send out an inquiry.

“I will bring them with me,” Fan Xian said. “The palace treasury also belongs to the court, although they rarely interact with court officials, by the regulations they are governed by Jiangnan Road.”

He gazed at the uneasy faces of the officials and said comfortingly, “I know what you are all worried about. Please be assured, I am not one to hold a grudge and seek revenge. Just as I said to General Ye earlier, for the purpose of being fair, I will not personally try these people, instead I will hand them over to the Suzhou governor.”

He smiled slightly. “With Sir Xue trying the case, I trust that you will no longer have any suspicions.” He looked at the trusted aides of the Eldest Princess still standing opposite the Overwatch Council officials. A thread of anger flashed by the corner of his mouth. “When did capturing people become a game of eagle catching chicks?”

Su Wenmao’s face flushed slightly as he glared viciously at his subordinates. The Overwatch Council official felt shame in their hearts. They went forward. A few circle kicks later, they had palace treasury officials who cried their grievances to the heavens and would not submit kneeling on the ground, so they tied them up securely.

The officials in the hall couldn’t resist shaking their heads. They had wanted to urge the imperial envoy to leave some face for the officials, but remembering Fan Xian’s earlier warmth then graveness, they were frozen by his warm coolness and temperamental attitude. They didn’t dare ask for mercy. As a subordinate, they were not afraid of a strict superior but of a temperamental one who could randomly pull out the knife again.

Thus ended Fan Xian’s last court opening in the palace treasury. After the hall was dismissed, he kept Deputy Ma Jie back. The two of them walked in the back garden of the manor. On one hand was the air of the approaching spring, on the other they talked about matters more reminiscent of an austere autumn.

“Don’t blame me for striking so hard,” Fan Xian said as he rubbed the slightly dry corners of his eyes. “Since they dared to meddle when I just assumed my post, don’t blame me for taking off their official’s hats.”

Ma Jie gave a bitter smile. Although in name he was Fan Xian’s deputy, and their levels appeared similar, he knew that in reality the young master in front of him held power that was shocking and even more terrifying than that of the princes. When Fan Xian discussed cleaning out the Eldest Princess’ trusted aides, although he expressed a little worry and tried to absolve them a little, he did disagree to Fan Xian’s face.

Fan Xian once again asked him, alone, to stay behind and had said such honest words to him. Ma Jie knew that the other party was preparing to nurture him as his trusted aide. He was secretly happy, but also a little worried. After all, no one knew who would win between this young master and the Jingdou elders.

The court officials were very sensitive about who the dragon chair would belong to. Although it seemed, at the moment, that it would be inherited by the Crown Prince, the Emperor’s behavior the past two years had been overly strange. No one dared to believe it completely. If the Second Prince were to inherit…everyone knew Commissioner Fan and the Second Prince did not get along. If Ma Jie set his heart on following Fan Xian, he would certainly not have a good ending if the Second Prince inherited the throne.

This was what Ma Jie continuously had misgivings about. He was clear that although one needed to ingratiate oneself with all sides, on matters of vital importance, the most tabooed thing to do was to stand to the side as an opportunist. Today was the last day before Fan Xian left the palace treasury, and he was again talking with him. It was because Fan Xian wanted him to make his stance clear.

Ma Jie had thought about it all night last night and was not panicked. Calmly he said, “What Sir is discussing is what I was going to ask. I will immediately write two documents concerning this matter. One will be delivered down to the palace secretary, and one will be sent by a fast horse to the Governor’s manor in Suzhou. Please…be reassured.”

Hearing these words, Fan Xian knew that Ma Jie understood that he had bound himself to Fan Xian. The fact that he did not hesitate to send out these two documents to help Fan Xian shoulder the criticisms he might receive, and, furthermore, he was using this opportunity to make clear his stance to others in the officialdom…he had made up his mind. He looked at Ma Jie warmly and said, “Sir Ma has been considerate.”

Ma Jie smiled slightly and replied, “As the deputy of the palace treasury, I should have investigated by subordinates. To let them cause such trouble this time is already an oversight on my part.”

Fan Xian smiled. He hesitated briefly and then asked, “I wonder if you think my solution today was appropriate?”

Ma Jie thought about it for a bit then respectfully replied, “Sir has planned far ahead, and it is a good plan. Officials cannot be compared to treasurers; they cannot be casually killed or punished. If the case was tried at the transport company court, it would, for one, drag out the time too long, and, second, easily attract discussion by others. You are taking these criminal officials to Suzhou tomorrow and handing them to the governor to try. The governor is a pillar of the country; his official reputation is powerful, and he is well admired. He is sure to be able to try the case clearly on behalf of the court and give the Emperor an excellent explanation.”

Fan Xian quietly gave his approval in his heart. This deputy had indeed guessed his intentions perfectly. Fan Xian was going to clean out Xinyang’s trusted aides from the palace treasury. Although the matter on the jianghu this time had given him a good excuse, if he did everything himself, it would not be appropriate. When it involved the Eldest Princess, the princess, and Palace nobility, throwing this hot potato to a super official was a clever idea. The Jiangnan Governor already had jurisdiction over this matter. Plus, although Xue Qing would curse him a little in secret, as the border region minister, his position was not the same. He would not be afraid of the Eldest Princess far away in Jingdou, rather he would be more concerned with Fan Xian who was deep in Jiangnan territory. Weighing the two sides, Xue Qing should be clear on what to do.

“Before I came, Shao’an had mentioned to me a cousin who was talented at governance. Through our interactions these days, it is clear that Shao’an had not been boasting.” Fan Xian smiled and changed the topic. He began to use Ren Shao’an again, a middle-man, to pull them closer together.

Ma Jie smiled and said, “Two years ago you entered the capital and became friends with Shao’an on sight. When Shao’an sent letters, he would often mention your talents and glory, and that you were sure to be an official who could rectify the world.”

The manager and deputy talked happily, each praising and currying favor with the other. They also verbally agreed to regulations for the palace treasury. After this, they both raised their hands in a salute and left.

Seeing him to the door of the garden, Fan Xian watched as Ma Jie slightly bent in a bow. Fan Xian blinked. I seemed there were indeed plenty of incredible people in the court. Unfortunately they lacked much of an Emperor’s favor from a previous generation, so they did not have many opportunities to demonstrate it. Now that today’s matter was set, the palace treasury no longer had major problems. He felt himself relax. The job of stuffing his own trusted aides into the transport company would gradually expand in the middle of the year. Having obtained Ma Jie’s help, this matter would go along smoothly.

Fan Xian was only a bit confused as to exactly what made Ma Jie choose him rather than a legitimate prince. This certainly was not something his close relationship with Ren Shao’an of the Taichang Temple could sway.

In reality, the reason Ma Jie capitulated was simple: it was because of the relationship between the Third Prince and Fan Xian that had him putting down a huge bet concerning his future road as an official and the prosperity and decline of his family. He put all his silver all on the small odds.

Fan Xian appeared to be abnormally busy. Seventh Ye was the leader of the four shopkeepers who had come with Fan Xian south this time, and he was already the director of the Qingyu Hall. These years he had been helping the Fan manor accumulate wealth. He got along well with Fan Sizhe and was familiar with Fan Xian. Thus some of the things Fan Xian did not dare to ask the other shopkeepers, in front of him, Fan Xian was able to speak straightforwardly.

One elder and one youth stood closely together and talked in secret. It was nothing more than problems concerning future management and production of the palace treasury. Fan Xian knew that he was a laymen when it came to production management, chemistry, and physics, so he had delegated powers relating to these down to Seventh Ye. There was not much good to say about him, but he did use people without suspicion. He did so now in the palace treasury and in the past in Jingdou. If it involved the making of a covert plot, it was all up to young master Yan in the Fourth Bureau to handle. Fan Xian absolutely trusted the other party’s professional ability and would not idiotically make suggestions and order things about.

After confirming these matters, Fan Xian felt reassured. Back in the day, the Ye family was successful. Now under the control of the shopkeepers, they would certainly be able to gradually turn around the problems around production quality and quantity that arose from the palace treasury being poorly operated. As long as they could make more silver, it would be a preliminary justification for the Emperor. This was a matter Fan Xian was particularly interested.

“The problem of delayed and owed wages cannot happen again.” Fan Xian furrowed his brows and sighed. “You will have to keep an eye on the standard quality of the goods.”

Seventh Ye glanced at him and was confused as to why the commissioner always brought up the matter of the wages. He could not figure out the reason. As the spring sunlight filled the garden, the old shopkeeper looked at Fan Xian’s handsome appearance and became a little absent-minded. Although the young master did not look much like the mistress, they were both the most elegant of people. Now that the young master had finally gotten hold of the Ye property, even if he only managed it, the old shopkeeper still felt a difficult-to-contain sorrow and couldn’t stop sighing in his heart—although he hid it well from his face. He had to hide it because the nearly 20 years of his life he had been under house arrest in Jingdou had made it clear to these old shopkeepers that some things could only be done or said. If any signs were revealed, they would bring unnecessary trouble for the young master.

“I had originally planned to invite you to go to Northern Qi to help second brother…” Fan Xian had not noticed the thoughts in Seventh Ye’s heart. “I didn’t expect those eunuchs to be following the entire time. The Palace is watching closely, so I could only have you come to the palace treasury.”

Seventh Ye smiled slightly and said, “For your sake, the eunuchs have treated us very warmly up to now. The Second young master is a natural merchant, so there is no need for you to worry. As for the palace treasury…you should know, I very much wanted to come and have a look.”

Fan Xian sank into silence and said after a moment, “Su Wenmao is here. If you elders are uncomfortable or if anyone dares to raise their eyebrows at you, just speak to him. I have left instructions. Since you have left the capital, there is no need for you to suffer other’s sullen anger.”

Seventh Ye felt moved but did not say anything.

A gust of wind blew by. The tender green leaves on the trees in the garden had not yet grown securely and was blown off by the wind. Fan Xian made a soft sound and smoothly scooped it into his hand. Looking at the place of the new break, his brows furrowed for a long time.

After a long while, he quietly and faintly asked, “Can the crafts…be written down?”

Seventh Ye’s body trembled slightly. A moment later he shook his head. “It is an inflexible rule. It cannot be formed into words, only passed on verbally.”

Fan Xian said, “The blueprints cannot be verbally passed down.”

Seventh Ye shook his head. “Before it was guarded closely, now we don’t even know where they are anymore.”

Fan Xian thought about it for a while and then a faint smile floated onto his face. “In a few months, come to Hangzhou to tell me about it. My memory is very good.”