Joy of Life - Chapter 487[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:24]
Chapter 487: Who Could Obstruct A Large Escorted Stone-Carrying Carriage?
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Yang Wanli glanced at Fan Xian beside him and said, “Teacher, the Jiangnan matter is set. You shouldn’t worry too much.”
He said this very honestly and sincerely. The Yang Wanli of this moment had already gone through the ordeals on the riverbank for more than half a year, as well as the wrangling and shirking of the River Transport Governor’s yamen. He had gradually come to understand the real meaning of being an official and the difficulty of the people.
As an official, to do things for the people and help the court required power and money in hand. Otherwise, it was impossible to achieve anything. Since Yang Wanli had Fan Xian as a support, no one in the Ministry of Works ordered him around. Although the River Transport Governor’s yamen was a mess, he had the power to directly transfer money from the palace treasury. In this matter, no one could create obstacles for him.
He was no longer the innocent and pure youth of the past who dared to cry and storm to his teacher. Every time he thought of this, he felt deep admiration for his teacher’s lecture that year beside Xi Lake in Hangzhou.
At this moment, the endless riverbanks beneath their feet were the result of Yang Wanli’s year of work. Every time he saw the square rocks, yellow dirt, and tamed river below the riverbanks, his heart filled with satisfaction and pride. The patched clothing on his body and dark appearance all became a mark of glory.
Yang Wanli knew that he was able to achieve his dream because of old Minister Fan and Sir Fan junior’s meticulous care and promotion. He was both happy and worried about his teacher’s arrival and said what he did earlier.
Everyone knew that Fan Xian had been attacked on his return to Jingdou. Yang Wanli was concerned about his teacher’s health.
Fan Xian shook his head and gazed at the river beneath his feet and said, “No worries, don’t think so highly of me. I am a lazy person. I won’t be so busy with state affairs that I harm my health. As for the Jiangnan matter, the Ming family’s weakness has long been grasped. They have no way to retaliate. However, if we want to swallow them whole, it is still a bit difficult.”
The present Yang Wanli could understand what his words meant. It was not difficult to swallow the Ming family. What was important was the members of the royal family behind the Ming family. If Fan Xian didn’t create a taboo situation for the Palace, the Ming family would have destroyed him long ago.
Fan Xian smiled and didn’t give any details of the situation. He only comfortingly said, “This return to the capital yielded great returns. Although the Emperor had not changed the entire style of governance, the changing of blood on the court has begun…you should have seen Cheng Jialin’s name on the imperial bulletin.”
“Yes, Jialin is the first of us four to return to the capital for a post,” Yang Wanli said happily. Although the investigation into the attack on Fan Xian came to nothing, the Qing Emperor had used this opportunity to chase away a bunch of old people and inserted many new people into the court. The least famous of Fan Xian’s four disciples, Cheng Jialin, was selected and promoted over many ranks. Now, he was a member of the Ministry of Rites and a key member to be developed by the court.
Fan Xian glanced at him and smiled. “Of the four of you, Jialin is the most silent and mediocre. Despite this, his path was smoother than that of Jicheng’s…of course, Jicheng’s problem lies with me. If I hadn’t called him to Jiaozhou, he would not have sunk into such an impasse. I can only hope he doesn’t blame me.”
Yang Wanli shook his head and said, “Teacher, what are you saying? For the Jiaozhou matter, Jicheng has written to me and said that this was an important matter. Besides, only Jicheng could have handled it.”
Fan Xian nodded. Since the four of them all knew of his struggles, he didn’t need to explain anymore.
The two of them followed the riverbank downstream. As they strolled, they chatted leisurely. Fan Xian reminded him, “I know of your work in the river works yamen and so does the court. Now that the title ‘hard-working Wanli’ has entered the Palace, this will be greatly beneficial to your future. However, you have to remember what I said before. In things like river repairs and in things you know how to do, you should work hard at them. For things you don’t understand, never give orders randomly.”
Yang Wanli smiled and replied, “Having been on the riverbanks for a year, even things I don’t understand, I know a little of it now.”
Fan Xian glanced at him with disapproval and said, “The river works is an important business. It is even more important than the battles in Xi Lake and Northern Qi. If you only understand a little…how could it be enough that you can speak with such confidence?”
Yang Wanli immediately understood and accepted the scolding with embarrassment.
“A mere one year of time is, of course, not enough to stop a river disaster.” Fan Xian furrowed his brows. “This is a decade-long job or even a century-long job. As long as there are people living on the two banks of the Great River, it will have to be repaired. You have to lose your pride and irritation…you must be satisfied and silent.”
“However, you have to take care to train a few capable subordinates and specialists,” Fan Xian said sincerely. “Although you have the desire to create happiness for the people, after being exposed to the elements for many years, your body probably won’t be able to take it. Train some capable people, and there will be no need to stay in the river works yamen. Then, you can get back to Jingdou and work seriously there.”
Yang Wanli was startled and quickly said, “Teacher, I don’t want to return to the capital. The capital is much more troublesome than the river banks…besides, I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m long used to it.”
“Of course, the capital is troublesome. But if you want to do things, you have to return to the capital,” Fan Xian said resolutely. “This has nothing to do with whether or not you can handle the hardship. I’m counting on you living for a few more years…for someone at such an age to not even have a wife yet, what would people say if that got out?”
Yang Wanli was unhappy but didn’t say anything more. Speaking of which, it was rather strange. Fan Xian was younger than all four of his disciples. However, whenever they ran into each other, Fan Xian was becoming more and more used to putting on his teacher role and lecturing them. This was probably what was meant by “different environments raise different people.”
In the following few days, Fan Xian continued to linger in Yingzhou. Most of the time, he was on the river banks and advising Yang Wanli. However, it was inevitable he would receive a feast invitation from the river works governor’s yamen. Fan Xian could make excuses to normal local officials, but this time, the river works Governor had come personally to extend his invitation. With such face, he really had no choice.
The reason the Governor invited Fan Xian out was very simple. What the river works governor yamen lacked was silver, and the palace treasury that Fan Xian controlled was full of silver. This year, the river banks governor’s yamen had acted smoothly and been greatly rewarded by the Emperor. This was because Fan Xian, openly and not, had been very warm toward this yamen and provided countless liang of silver. For such a favor, the Governor had no choice but to be thankful.
What confused Yang Wanli was why his teacher continued to linger in Yingzhou. A surveying Jiangnan Road imperial envoy could inspect the building of the riverbanks. However, looking at Fan Xian’s appearance, it looked like he was preparing to stay for half a month.
“Teacher, are you not going to Suzhou?” One day, Yang Wanli gathered his courage and asked.
“No rush, I’ll wait a bit longer.”
Fan Xian smiled. Jingdou was in the north and Suzhou was in the east. At this moment, he sat comfortably in Yingzhou and watched what was about to happen on the two sides with cold eyes, like a porter carrying baskets of spiky fruits. Coincidentally, a shoulder pole took all of the weight, so he was not worried about the spiky fruits pricking his thigh.
He was waiting for the event in Suzhou to properly begin and the Jingdou matter to explode. Yingzhou was the best place to watch the show. Although in the eyes of the officials he was someone who liked to cause trouble, in such a sensitive time, he still had to avoid suspicion.
The Overwatch Council’s Qinian Unit had two leading figures in Jiangnan. One was in charge of the three large workshops’ production in the palace treasury in North Min, Su Wenmao. The other was in the Suzhou palace treasury transport company keeping an eye on the Ming family’s movements, Hong Changqing.
The plan targeting the Ming family had been laid out a year ago. The first steps had begun half a year ago. On one side, the Zhaoshang money house lent heavily to the Ming family to support their means and daily needs. They also began to provoke Ming Lanshi in developing a new trade route. At the same time, they had also acted on the Sixth Ming master who liked wrestling. The muddled-headed Sixth Ming master only knew that Zhaoshang money house had lent him a great deal of money, but he had never thought that his shares in the Ming family had long become a few deeds in Zhaoshang money house.
All of this was being done openly. Even if the Zhaoshang money house wanted to enforce the debt, given the Ming family’s strong foundations, the goods in their hands, daily income, and Taiping money house’s support, they could still make do and not be forced into bankruptcy and use their company and lands to repay the debt in full.
The problem before Fan Xian was how to reduce the Ming family’s income and cause serious problems for their cash flow.
To defeat a business as large as the Ming family’s, no matter how much money was available, it was still very difficult to reach this goal. The problem was that Fan Xian had full authority over the palace treasury and a death grip on the supply of goods. It was equivalent to having a chokehold on the Ming family’s throat.
With Su Wenmao taking the lead, with the full cooperation of the deputy of the palace treasury transport company and the cousin of Ren Shao’an, and with the clever planning by a few of Qingyu Hall’s old shopkeepers from the end of last summer, the production of the three workshops in the palace treasury had gradually increased. The quality had also risen greatly.
With more supply going out, more supply needed to be taken in. It was impossible for the Ming family to pass up on this opportunity. Additionally, during this time period, the Overwatch Council had greatly relaxed their harassment against the Ming family, so the entire Ming family business had come alive again. In a flash, they had taken on countless goods and were shipping them in the direction of Dongyi and Quanzhou.
Although such a large shipment of goods had taken out a large chunk of the Ming family’s silver, Ming Qingda was not worried. This exchange would bring silver back into the account. This was the reason he was feeling relaxed during those days. If it continued like this, what a lovely future it would be.
However, for some reason, the palace treasury transport company’s three large workshops suddenly stopped work.
After the news of the work stopping reached Suzhou, Ming Qingda flew into a rage. He had Ming Lanshi rush to the palace treasury transport company yamen to ask exactly what had happened. Very shamelessly, Hong Changqing took down his question but was only willing to say that the three large workshops were currently undergoing regular equipment checking and needed some time.
The Ming family had the right to be angry and roar because they were royal merchants who had paid out tens of thousands of liang of silver. Since the palace treasury had taken their bid money, they had to ensure their supply of goods. Otherwise, they could take the lawsuit before the Emperor.
However, Hong Changqing also had an excuse to delay because the three large workshops had already completed the amount stated in the bids last year. Even if they stopped for a few days or weeks, the Ming family had already received everything it was supposed to receive.
Ming Qingda had no choice. He could only use the power he had in officialdom to inquire as to the truth. With great difficulty, the news got back and said that the three large workshops were striking again. Sir Su of the Overwatch Council had beheaded 20 people before just barely managing to quell it. However, there would be many days of missed work.
Hearing this reason, only then did the Ming family let out a breath. As long as it wasn’t Fan Xian’s plot, it was fine. They began to wait for the day the palace treasury resumed working. The reason the Ming family was so anxious and nervous was because everything had been going well for the past two months. Gradually, the Ming family came to believe in the palace treasury’s production ability. Going by their normal figures, they had signed a large contract with Dongyi and other countries.
The deadline for the goods had already arrived. The Ming family needed a large number of goods, and merchants needed credibility. The Ming family would rather lose money than have no goods to sell.
After a few more days, the three large workshops finally resumed work. However, there were not many of each type of good produced and the amount was woefully inadequate. It was impossible to know when it would be able to recover last year’s circumstances. For a while, the Ming family sank into a small panic. In order to complete the order, they had no choice but to bring in goods from all over. Not only did they deplete the last of their stored goods, they had no choice but to borrow goods at a high price from a few companies on the North Road and South Road.
Having received the account master’s report and weighing the useable cash currently within the clan, Ming Qingda furrowed his brows and said, “Just what is Fan Xian doing? Does he think taking some of my goods will bring me down? So naïve.”
Ming Lanshi listened at the side. His mouth tasted slightly bitter. Recently, he had moved some money from Zhaoshang money house in preparation to enter the illegal salt business. His partner this time was Yang Jimei, Jiangnan’s largest salt merchant. He knew that Yang Jimei was very close to Governor Xue Qing, so Ming Lanshi was not worried about anything. However, the return on illegal salt needed at least three months. If his father knew that he had moved the family’s cash flow to another place, would he still be as confident as he was now?
“The Ming family doesn’t have anything else, it only has money.” Ming Qingda smiled coldly. “Fan Xian wants to control the price on the market to eat up our silver, then we’ll give it to him to eat. In any case, he will have to spit it back out in the future. We have to complete the order this time.”
The Overwatch Council’s actions were not as simple as just controlling the market price. The day after the Ming family had successfully paid a high price to gather all the goods, the workers in the three large workshops became as excited, as if they had taken ephedrine. The workings of the palace treasury suddenly exploded, and there wasn’t a trace of striking to be seen. In a short time, they created new records for peak daily productivity.
Although the selling prices of the royal merchants were balanced by the court, the selling price was controlled by the supplier. At this moment, the price of the goods sank, but business was better. The Lingnan Xiong family, Sun family, and even Xia Mingji gained a lot during this market price. Most importantly, they had earned a huge price difference from the Ming family. It was their own fault that they had the most trade routes.
The Ming family had worked hard to gather the high-priced goods and had fulfilled most of the orders. Yet, they watched as the market price fell and felt an indescribable anger. In particular, as Quanzhou’s foreign export partners shamelessly changed routes and turned to Lingnan to take on cheaper goods, it left the Ming family with a large amount of porcelain and perfume in hand.
With this one move, the Ming family lost 700,000 in cash flow.
If this had been in the past, the 700,00 would not have been much for the Jiangnan Ming family. After having been suppressed by the Overwatch Council for a year, the Ming family’s cash flow had long dried to a trickle. The Ming family was completely dependent on the support of Taiping and Zhaoshang money houses. Now, another 700,000 liang had melted like snow. The Master of the Ming family, Ming Qingda, had no choice but to become wary.
“This order has to be sent out. Although Shi Pibao is a foreigner, he has a large foreign business behind him. He would certainly not be as shameless as those islanders. He also keeps his promises.” Ming Qingda rubbed his tired eyes and said to his son below, “Lanshi, escort the goods personally this time. You must be careful.”
Ming Lanshi made a sound of acknowledgment. He also knew that this batch of goods was very important as this was the batch of demo goods for which his father had spared no effort and used countless connections to bring out of the palace treasury.
The so-called demo items referred to the first batch of successful new goods like liquor and perfume in the past. Although the price was very high, everyone knew that it would be a curious new item. Once it was sold, it could be sold like gold.
The demo item this time was a batch of mirrors. Ming Lanshi had tested them personally. The main component of these mirrors was glass, but the material at the back was something unknown. It actually had a layer of silver plated on the back. It appeared very delicate and thin, and was truly a treasure.
Logically speaking, given the relationship between Fan Xian and the Ming family, it would be impossible for the Ming family to become wealthy from such important demo goods. However, the Ming family had done business in Jiangnan for a long time. They had to use another royal merchant family to be able to take in this batch of goods. Ming Lanshi still felt a sense of unease. If they could safely deliver this batch of silver mirrors to Shi Pibao in Quanzhou, the Ming family’s very difficult cash flow issues would be greatly relieved, but…would it go so smoothly?
“Don’t worry about anything,” Ming Qingda said with a dark expression. “I have already communicated with the capital. You’re personally delivering this batch of goods, and the Jiaozhou Navy have also been given orders. This time, we won’t sail out ourselves. Although we will earn less, it should be safe to travel between the provinces….”
This Master of the Ming family, who had already tolerated Fan Xian for a year, said in a chilly voice, “If someone…truly dares to kill to steal the goods…it’s impossible for them to kill everyone. After someone escapes back, we will go to the capital and take them to court before the Emperor!”
Three days later, on a small mountain south-east of Suzhou, Hong Changqing looked at the long line of carriages and smiled. There were not many carriages with mirrors, there were only two carriages. However, the Ming family had sent out 500 of their personal soldiers to escort it. It was clear they highly valued this export order.
His smile was immediately restrained and turned cold. He suddenly remembered a year ago, the day large numbers of the Jiaozhou Navy and officials came to massacre the island. He thought of those flesh-eating birds and his pirate brothers who had died with grievances.
Although he was an Overwatch Council secret agent from the beginning and responsible for investigating the island, after being with the pirates on the island for a long time, there would also be some affection. Thus, as he stood on the mountain today and looked at the Ming family’s carriages and soldiers, a bloodthirsty and joyful smile appeared at the corners of his lips.
He was not killing anyone day, but it would cause more pain for Ming Qingda than the death of these people.
As he was thinking, a group of about 200 riders escorting a few carriages came from the official road directly opposite the one the Ming family was traveling on.
The two sides faced each other and were blocked at the foot of the mountain.
Ming Lanshi had been carefully watching the situation on the road. Seeing this group of people, he immediately felt a strange atmosphere. He ordered his private soldiers to draw their weapons and prepare to meet the enemy.
However, the 200 riders did not do anything. They only passed the Ming family group coldly. Although these riders sat straight on their horses, a cold and severe murderous intention emanated from all over their bodies. The Ming family’s private soldiers did not dare move impudently.
Just as the two groups formed two lines, the sides of the carriages that the 200 riders were escorting suddenly broke and everything inside fell out, smashing against the Ming family carriages that held the mirrors.
If it were the usual goods, what did it matter if it was hit?
However, the problem was that the items that crashed against the carriages carrying the mirrors were green stones, very heavy and very sharp green stones.
No one dared to use their bodies to block it, not even the Ming family soldiers under strict orders. After a few muffled booms, there came countless sounds of shattering.
Ming Lanshi let out a sharp cry. He quickly dismounted to check, only to see that of the 100 or so mirrors, most of them had been shattered into shiny pieces. Although it still reflected a dazzling brilliance, but…
Chaos immediately broke out on the official road at the foot of the mountain. Countless people drew their weapons. The two sides confronted each other, and a large battle was imminent.
Ming Lanshi’s vision went black. He knew it was all over. He viciously turned his head and stared at the leader of the 200 riders. He gritted his teeth and said, “As expected…when did the Overwatch Council’s Black Knights start to do such things as highway robbery?”
The leading figure, who wore a silver mask on his face, was not surprised that the Ming young master recognized their identity as they had not intended to hide it.
The deputy commander of the Overwatch Council’s Black Knights, Jing Ge, gazed at Ming Lanshi and coldly said, “I have not killed anyone and have not stolen any goods…I am escorting the stone materials that the palace treasury’s three large workshops need and passed through this place. However, you merchants dared to block the path. The road was narrow. Unfortunately, our carriages flipped. Both sides have suffered losses. We are not asking you for compensation…so you should not make such a din. If you provoke my rage, be careful of your head.”
Ming Lanshi’s vision dimmed. He looked at the Black Knights, who emanated bloodthirstiness and eagerness. He forcefully suppressed the anger in his chest only to feel the taste of blood rise in his throat. He stared with pain and in a daze as he said, “Carriages flipped?”
How in the world could a carriage flip so accurately? Both sides suffered losses equally? Your greenstones could flip however they want and not lose a corner, but ours…were fragile mirrors!