Joy of Life - Chapter 396

[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:50]
If you find missing chapters, pages, or errors, please Report us.
Previous Next

Chapter 396: You Make Trouble Outside The Garden, I Laugh Inside The Garden

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

It had begun to rain in Suzhou again. It was said that the rain upstream was even heavier. The attention of the court officials was focused on the heavily damaged banks above Shazhou. Fan Xian was in Suzhou, but his gaze was also in that direction. Yang Wanli had long taken his post in the river transport governor’s yamen. The silver transferred from the palace treasury had stopped, and the silver from the national had arrived. The money in river works had never been as abundant as this year, however, the river repairs had begun too late this year. No one knew whether or not it could hold up against the summer floods.

The rain was heavy and immediately dampened the Jiangnan heat. All that was left was a cold remnant of spring. For the Jiangnan people, this rainwater only increased their internal melancholy and sorrowful rage. Few people thought of the previous year’s victims upstream of the Yangtze River, who were without a roof to live under and without clothing to protect them, because the old Ming matriarch’s funeral was about to take place.

Fan Xian watched all of this coldly and did not react. After Deng Zi Yue, everyone including the governor, Overwatch Council, and his subordinates in the palace treasury transport company all advised him that it would be best to offer a stick of incense in the mourning hall. If the imperial advisor made the gesture, given the reverence of the Qing Kingdom people to the court, they shouldn’t continue their troublemaking.

Fan Xian staunchly rejected this suggestion. In his eyes, it was just the funeral of an old bastard. What about it? It was only the death of a single person. If the matter upstream of the Yangtze was not handled well, god knows how many people would die.

The officials sighed in despair at the imperial envoy’s attitude. They thought perhaps he had not felt the undercurrent flowing through the people.

At the end of the month, Ming Garden was filled with the plaintive cries of birds. White cloths were hung up high in the expansive mourning hall. It was now the seven days in which the coffin was stopped.

Once seven days came to an end, it was the time to announce the death. According to the funeral regulations of the Qing Kingdom, after seven days, the news had to be sent to their family, friends, and even enemies. Regardless of what hatred the two sides had, the rule of announcing the death could not be waived. The original purpose of this was so that the death vanished all gratitude and hatred. Often a person’s enemy would use the occasion of the announcement of the death to personally visit their mourning hall and offer their condolences. It was like resolving their disagreements during their life. From then on, the yin and yang were separated and the two had nothing to do with each other.

Everyone’s eyes were on Hua Garden. According to the regulation and the old matriarch’s status, the white notice announcing the death should also be sent to the imperial envoy’s hand. As for what he was going to do, it would depend on how he handled the white notice.

No one had expected that when the Ming Garden sent the notice to Hua Garden, Hua Garden only courteously invited in the Third master for a cup of tea and then saw him out. The white notice was not accepted.

The Third master threw a fit right outside Hua Garden. He cursed them out thoroughly and then viciously spat on the stone steps in front of Hua Garden. Immediately, a servant came out and used clean water to wash away all traces of the spit.

Nothing and no one under heaven was higher than the “way.” In the heart of the common people, the deceased was the senior. This was the way of the world. For the imperial envoy to not pay the deceased respect, the people felt a trace of shock and many kinds of anger.

They were angered even further because before the old matriarch’s mourning hall had opened, the Overwatch Council struck again and captured the Sixth master, who led the obstruction of the search in the Ming Garden. They captured him on the grounds of investigating Dongyi spies, and thus, not only the Suzhou government, but even the governor’s manor could not say anything. Furthermore, after the Overwatch Council secretly captured the Sixth master, they immediately sent him to be watched by the Shazhou navy and did not hand him to the local authorities.

Whether or not there was someone taking the lead, in any case, from the next day, there was a continuous gathering of people in front of Hua Garden. In loud voices, they cursed and scolded, calling out slogans they didn’t understand such as “severely punish the true criminal,””release the innocent,” and such.

To make even more of a headache, the Jiangnan scholars had joined in the ranks, and young students were very hot-blooded. Each time Sir Fan junior’s actions made these students feel a sense that their idolized image was being destroyed, they were angry beyond description; they clamored loudly and criticized harshly.

Hua Garden was as quiet as usual. However, the Jiangnan Road governor’s yamen was worried that there might be an uprising by the people, so he moved a squadron of soldiers to stand guard outside it. They drove the angry scholars to the end of the long street.

Governor Xue Qing, under heavy escort, made his way with great difficulty through the excited crowds and entered Hua Garden.

In the study, he and Fan Xian argued spiritedly for a long time. The result was that neither was able to sway the other. In the end, Xue Qing asked helplessly, “With these excited commoners surround the garden and refusing to leave, where is the court’s dignity?”

Fan Xian coldly said, “To surround the prince, their intentions are not honorable. If you still won’t use soldiers, I will.”

Xue Qing was startled. Only then he remembered that the Third Prince was still living in the garden. If the Suzhou people were allowed to continue surrounding Hua Garden and it got back to Jingdou, then there was no need for him to continue being the governor. Some of those scholars leading this would probably also pay with their lives. As the Jiangnan governor, he could not allow such terrifying things to happen in his jurisdiction. After a moment of thought, he sincerely asked, “What should be done?”

Given Xue Qing’s ruthlessness and shrewdness, it was a small problem to handle some scholars that were drunk on their hot-bloodedness. What was important was that he understood this atmosphere was one that Fan Xian had purposely cultivated. Without understanding his true purpose, he had no need to interfere and sink himself into this chaotic mess.

Fan Xian glanced at him and said, “It’s all a bunch of hot-blooded young people. I don’t want to make things difficult for them…however, with this continuous rain, it is very cold at night. Their hot-blood will cool and naturally, they will disperse.”

Xue Qing’s brow furrowed slightly, “What if they don’t disperse?”

Fan Xian smiled coldly. “Righteous anger can’t be eaten for food. If they still haven’t dispersed by night, it means some of the people surrounding the garden are not here with righteous anger, instead, they are there for another purpose.”

The goal the people in the shadows wanted to reach was simple. Besides inciting the people to an uprising, as long the people’s reactions were a bit stronger and the matter traveled back to Jingdou, then the Emperor would have to have some kind of response.

Xue Qing thought for a moment and then immediately understood Fan Xian’s meaning. “Should the governor’s manor act in this matter?”

Fan Xian shook his head. “This is a reputation-destroying matter. It will be fine for me to shoulder it myself…Sir, just guard Hua Garden well. After all, the safety of the Third Prince is of the most vital importance.”

Xue Qing understood, but he couldn’t stop feeling slightly strange and shocked. If they followed the conventional morals of the officialdom, in the matter of suppressing a people’s uprising, everyone always did it without drawing the attention of their superiors. However, Fan Xian putting on this solitary and stubborn show had indeed reduced his own pressure.

Their discussion ended, and Xue Qing took his leave.

Fan Xian sat alone in the study, lost in thought. Soon after, he couldn’t resist laughing mockingly at himself. Haitang had left for many days and had yet to return. If they were unable to capture Mr. Zhou, they would lose one-third of the benefits of this Ming Garden uprising. As for the angry Suzhou people, Fan Xian did not care about them at all…with Ming Qingda in the lead on the other side, the matter would certainly not go beyond the realm of excitement. But, it was very clear that behind the actions of the crowds, there were many shadows hiding in the darkness.

Without someone provoking and inciting them, how could small city people accustomed to being timid and fearful have the daring to yell outside the imperial envoy’s manor?

Concerning this matter, Fan Xian had already made sufficient preparations. Now that he had also received Xue Qing’s answer, his heart was at ease.

The matter developed just as Fan Xian expected. By dusk, the people outside had gradually dispersed. There were some righteous looking students wearing square headscarves and some commoners of unknown status mixed together. With the governor’s manor’s soldiers on guard, those people could only recite scripture from the end of the long street. They angrily accused the imperial envoy of acting with disregard for their lives and bringing disaster to the Jiangnan people.

It was unknown who started it, but the crowd gradually became excited and forced their way toward Hua Garden. The governor’s manor’s soldiers did not dare to strike ruthlessly for a moment, and they were slowly forced back.

They came closer and closer to Hua Garden before the crowd stopped. In a clamor of noise, all kinds of obscenities were shouted out. However, the students were not completely stupid. They knew cursing was one thing, but they only shouted obscenities about the Overwatch Council and did not involve Fan Xian’s ancestors to the eighteenth generation.

Everyone knew that Fan Xian’s ancestors were the Emperor’s ancestors. It was fine to curse the Overwatch Council that was hated by scholars everywhere, but to curse the Emperor’s ancestors to the eighteenth generation? Everyone only wanted to help the old matriarch who died so unjustly let out some anger, they did not want to throw their own lives into it.

Hua Garden remained quiet. Glowing lights could faintly be seen inside and music traveled out through the rain.

The governor’s manor’s soldiers stood guard sternly. They torches in their hands lit up the outside of Hua Garden.

The rain came down like thin like needles and had long soaked through the students still remaining outside. They meet each other’s gazes and wiped clean the rain on their faces. They found it difficult to believe their own ears. Suzhou was already like this, and they themselves were already like this, yet the imperial envoy had the leisure…to be like that?

They were being drenched by the rain while the imperial envoy was listening to opera. The students mysteriously began to become angry. Their cursing, which had just stopped due to their exhaustion, was renewed with vigor.

Amidst the cursing, a person wearing simple grey clothing stood in the crowd. They rolled their eyes around a few times then removed an item from within their clothes and threw it into Hua Garden. The item fell into the garden and only made a muffled sound, there was no explosion.

On the contrary, shocked cursing came out from within Hua Garden. “Who the f*ck is throwing bags of dog blood!”

Throwing dog’s blood was one of the best ploys to insult someone, although it was a bit childish, like kids having a disagreement. Once it was thrown into Hua Garden, where the imperial envoy lived, it became a major matter.

The students’ were startled and their cursing took a break. They wondered which of their peers was so daring.

As they were thinking, three black shadows flashed over Hua Garden. It was three swordsmen of the Sixth Bureau of the Overwatch Council. They looked coldly at the people making trouble on the street outside the garden.

The crowd became silent without reason, then suddenly someone cried out, “The Overwatch Council are going to kill people! We…!”

A shadow flashed into the crowd. The provoking cries rang out clearly and then stopped. It was like a duck that had been choked by someone.

The crowd started and separated from the center to see a cloth-clothed man holding the throat of the grey-clothed man walking out coldly.

The cloth-clothed man was the head of the Tiger Guards, Gao Da. Following Fan Xian’s orders, he had been standing outside the entire time watching the people who were fanning the flames. Given his ability, capturing someone was naturally very easy. He threw the grey-clothed man onto the ground and stepped on the man’s chest, hearing the man’s ribs shatter.

The students watched this wretched sight and hot-blood rushed into the heads. They surrounded Gao Da in the center and cried out loudly, “Murder! The Overwatch Council killed someone!”

This scene shocked the surrounding officials from the governor’s manor. The urged their horses closer and approached. At any moment, it could be a situation that needed to be suppressed by the soldiers.

Gao Da coldly picked up the grey-clothed man and shook him like a sack. With a clatter, countless items fell out from his body.

“First, he is not dead.”

The reply to Gao Da’s words was the sound of the grey-clothed man’s groan. The students’ mood became slightly more stabilized.

Gao Da coldly said, “Second, you are here to ask for justice, while this person is here to entice the imperial envoy to kill you all. There is a difference, so there is a difference of treatment…these are the imperial envoy’s own words.”

Only now did the students wake from their daze. Looking to the ground they couldn’t help jumping in fright. They saw that not only did bags of dog blood fall from the grey-clothed man’s body, there were also fire-starters, lamp oil, and other similar things. Only now did the crowd realize that if they had allowed this man to stay amidst the crowd as he wanted and had burned down Hua Garden, in which lived the prince and imperial envoy, they themselves would certainly be labeled as thugs by the court and killed on the spot.

“The second of the imperial envoy’s own words,” Gao Da said coldly.

The crowd was intimidated by his imposing manner and all listened well.

“To express the injustice you feel is the nature of young people, I don’t blame you.”

Gao Da continued to state Fan Xian’s words, “But to be provoked and incited by others without knowing the truth, how stupid is that? If you have a sense of injustice to express, you have to seek out a correct path. To make this kind of ruckus like fishwives at the market is truly very embarrassing.”

The students hearing these words felt very dissatisfied. A student that looked like a leader stood out, upright and unafraid, “The Overwatch Council handled matters unfairly and forced the loss of a life. I have already gone to the Suzhou government to report the case, however, officials protect each other and the Suzhou Government is afraid of the power of the Overwatch Council and did not dare to accept the lawsuit. Dare I ask the imperial envoy, what other path will allow me to express my sense of injustice?”

Gao Da looked at that person coldly, “The imperial envoy says since you have the daring to gather outside the garden and make trouble, do you have the daring to enter the garden to discuss the matter?”

The students immediately broke into a clamor. Some said they couldn’t enter. Some said they must enter. The opinions of the crowd were diverse and muddled. In the end, they all gathered their gazes on the student who had spoken out earlier. He was a student of Jiangnan Road’s Bailu Academy, Fang Tingshi. His background was poor, but he was very knowledgeable and experienced. He had always been deeply admired by his peers and was the unofficial leader of the students.

Fang Tingshi considered for a moment then gritted his teeth and removed the bloodletters he had collected from the people from inside his clothes. He raised it above his head and said, “I am willing to the enter the garden to discuss with the imperial envoy.”

Gao Da glanced at him expressionlessly. Holding that grey-clothed man, he began to walk into the garden. Fang Tingshi felt slightly uneasy, but he gathered his courage and walked in. At the same time, he managed to dissuade his peers’ requests to enter together.

Fan Xian sat in the grand chair with his eyes half closed, enjoying the gentle massage of Sisi standing behind him. His finger tapped on the table following the song the singing master was singing in the garden pavilion.

To the side of his hand was the daring Fang Tingshi, who dared to enter the garden alone to ask the imperial envoy for justice. He was reading something. His face was green one moment and white another, and his lips trembled slightly. It seemed he was shocked by what was recorded.

Fan Xian slowly opened his eyes and said, “These are top secrets of the court, however, a lot of it cannot be taken to the Suzhou government as evidence. In many cases the witnesses are dead and many implicate nobles in the court. I also cannot use this publicly to break the Ming Garden’s pretense…however, since you have the daring to pull together a group of students to demand justice, you cannot be an idiot. After seeing these things and knowing the details of the Ming Garden matter, you should be able to come to your own conclusions.”

In Fang Tingshi’s hand were the fruits of the secret investigation the Overwatch Council had carried out on the Ming family during this past half-year. It included the pirates on the island in the Eastern Sea, Ming Lanshi’s concubine’s mysterious death, the story of Xia Qifei and the Ming family, the Ming family’s smuggling to Dongyi, Sigu Jian secretly leaving aces to enter Jiangnan to assassinate Fan Xian…each account was all recorded clearly. Since these records were circumstantial evidence, they were unable to be submitted to a court as evidence. Fang Tingshi knew that what was written here was definitely true.

His hands holding the case files shook slightly and he said, “But…it shouldn’t be like this. The old Ming matriarch embraced Jiangnan. She sponsored countless poor and struggling students. My family has always been poor. If it wasn’t for the Ming Garden gifting rice each month and paying for me to go to school, how could I have entered the Bailu Academy?”

His eyes were red and looked angrily at Fan Xian. “Sir, since I dared to enter the garden today, I didn’t expect to leave alive. I do not believe the things recorded on here. The Overwatch Council is the best at framing others…”

Fan Xian looked at him coldly and didn’t bother at all to respond.

Fang Tingshi also could not go on speaking.

“Ever since I took over the Overwatch Council, when has there been a case of cooking up imaginary charges to trap someone?” Fan Xian ridiculed. “As for you, as a student, you should have the ability to think for yourself and not accept what others say and what others see. You only need to look at the situation of these recent years and use your brain.”

“Of course, none of you actually have brains,” Fan Xian criticized harshly. “If you had brains, none of you would have been provoked to come surround Hua Garden. What kind of place is this? This is the imperial envoy’s yamen and the prince’s temporary imperial residence. If I were to behead 300 of you, there wouldn’t be any problem. In the end, you will have died and my reputation would also be lost. It only benefited those lawless merchants who seek to circumvent the law.”

His anger was faked because Fan Xian knew that these students fell for this method the best.

As expected, Fang Tingshi mumbled indistinctly, “Your chiding is correct…” He began to have second thoughts. Not only did the imperial envoy not make a move to suppress the students, on the contrary, he had invited him into the manor; his heart was indeed sincere. He opened his mouth in a pained smile and said, “Sir is very magnanimous.”

Fan Xian closed his eyes and shook his head “I can’t be considered magnanimous. It is only because you are still young that I don’t want to use such methods…so I have been able to endure you until today.”

He suddenly opened his eyes and said, “You should know which four people are the four disciples of the Fan family.”

The four disciples of the Fan family were Hou Jichang, Cheng Jialin, Shi Chanli, and Yang Wanli. All of them had leapt up after that year’s spring examinations. Everyone knew they were Fan Xian’s disciples.

Fang Tingshi nodded his head.

Fan Xian smiled. “These four students are all older than me, however, they still call me teacher. Speaking of Jichang, he had also made trouble in Jiangnan before and was like you today.

Fang Tingshi was slightly startled.

Fan Xian finally said, “It is not an appreciation of talent, perhaps seeing you I am being nostalgic.”

After Fang Tingshi left, Sisi furrowed her brows and said, “Young master, these people don’t know what is good for them. How come you are…”

“Still this polite?” Fan Xian shook his head and said. “Reputation is indeed not important, but the subject of students should still be considered. In the future, after these people pass the provincial imperial examinations, they will all enter the court and become officials. Even if I am not thinking about myself, I still need to make considerations for His Highness.”

Sisi said again, “This matter is going to end like this.”

The trace of a warm smile rose to the corner of his lips. “If Fang Tingshi can persuade the students to leave, it means he is capable. In the future, of course, he should be cultivated properly. As for those ghosts mingling in the crowd…I was waiting for them.”

Ming Qingda had sent someone with a message earlier saying that the internal faction of Ming Garden had already mostly been suppressed. The problem was that it was not easy at the moment to suppress the rumors in Suzhou, particularly as the crowds making trouble were being provoked intentionally by some people.

“Don’t use knives.” Fan Xian turned around and gave orders to Gao Da. “The wooden sticks I had you prepare a few days ago are more effective. For suppressing things, it is good to make them hurt, but they can’t bleed.”

Whatever matter, if the word “bleeding” is put in front of it, it will always be trouble.

After Fang Tingshi left the garden, he talked for a long time with the other students. Unfortunately, in the end, he wasn’t able to persuade everyone. On the contrary, some of the suspicious students wondered whether or not he had become fearful of the court’s power and so on. Some people in the group provoked others with peculiar words. After Fang Tingshi exploded in rage, he felt ashamed. He didn’t know what to do. He could only take his fairly close peers and leave Hua Garden.

There was only half the number of people in the angry crowd. Having had the previous incidence of the dog’s blood, the governor’s manor soldiers watched even more closely.

After an indeterminable amount of time, a huge group of people charged out of Hua Garden. With wooden sticks in their hands, they struck toward the students who surrounded the garden and would not leave. In a moment, wretched cries rang out. The sound of wood on flesh could be heard clearly.

Although the people of the Overwatch Council did not strike hard and the students did not receive heavy injuries, how could these students, who were immersed in literature every day, endure the teachings of the stick? They cried and yelled, and were dispersed by the wooden sticks. The front of Hua Garden immediately recovered its peace.

Only the thin rain fell slowly.

The governor’s manor soldiers looked at this scene with open-mouthed shock. They thought the imperial envoy really was vicious and ruthless.

No one noticed that along with the students running in all directions away from the beating, there were also some sneaky shadows. After these sneaky shadows, there were some Overwatch Council spies disguised as scholars or commoners who ran in fright as well as keeping a careful eye on them.

Fan Xian stood on the ladder and climbed to the top of Hua Garden wall with the Third Prince’s hand in his own. Looking at this sight, he couldn’t stop his laughter and said, “Following the perfect model, I should have had the group disguise themselves as gentlemen loyal to the ruler who loved the people to beat these students.”

The Third Prince asked curiously, “Sir, then why didn’t you do that today?”

Fan Xian laughingly scolded, “To use the people of the Jiangnan water bandits? Now, everyone knows that Xia Qifei is one of our people. Why bother to hide behind that extra layer of powder?”