Joy of Life - Chapter 644 - To Know The Situation From A Cup Of Light Tea[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:26]
Chapter 644: To Know The Situation From A Cup Of Light Tea
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Sun Pin’er sat with unease in the side hall. She sat properly in a water-blue robe, simply and elegantly. She was not like a guest or overly cautious. In the morning, she had come to the Fan manor. Her mind had long turned into a puddle of glue. One moment, she was embarrassed that as a woman, she had disregarded her shame and came personally to the manor to ask for help. In another moment, she thought of her father sighing at home and felt extremely worried. In her heart, the most panicked corner had been taken over by Fan Xian’s appearance.
It had been three years since she had seen Sir Fan junior, although the servants did occasionally hear some rumors outside and talk about it at home. Sun Pin’er knew that he had been well during these three years and had a son and a daughter. His family was harmonious. He also didn’t have any problems in court. Her heart was greatly comforted by this. Sun Pin’er wanted to see Fan Xian, but she knew that if she actually saw him, it would be against etiquette. One moment, she could neither end things nor find reason and hoped that he would summon her to see him. In another moment, she hoped that he actually wasn’t in the manor so she would be able to quietly go home.
The tea on the table was slightly cold. Another servant came to change it. This was already the fourth change of tea. Although she had sat there since morning, the Fan manor had not neglected the young lady of the Sun family. After the wife of the Teng family returned from the medical shop, she began to respectfully and calmly chat with her. They talked for a number of hours. The words from the woman’s mouth never repeated.
Sun Pin’er knew that this woman was the housekeeper of the Fan manor and did not dare to treat disparagingly. Upon hearing that Princess Chen was not in the manor, she had relaxed a little. Everyone knew that the princess was gentle and kind. She never expressed any opinion about outside affairs and focused all of her efforts into hosting the Hangzhou Conference to obtain benefits for the poor and downtrodden common people. Her benevolence was admired and respected by everyone. However, Sun Pin’er knew of the rumors in the capital and still felt slightly scared.
Waiting for a long time, the Teng wife said that the princess had gone to the Palace and that the duke was out on business and not in the manor. She hoped young lady Sun could be understanding that there was no master at home to receive her. However, Sun Pin’er had long spied officials going in and out from the garden and guessed that Sir Fan junior was probably hiding in the back garden unwilling to see her. After feeling faintly disappointed it, she rose to make her farewells. For some reason, the Teng wife refused to catch her drift.
Sun Pin’er was surprised but guessed that the people in the back garden were probably discussing her visit, so she calmly sat back down.
Before long, Fan Ruoruo walked into the side hall. Sun Pin’er quickly stood and greeted her. The two women spoke for a while in warm and low voices. Fan Ruoruo then related the words Fan Xian had asked her to say.
Sun Pin’er was delighted. She thought, If Sir Fan junior was indeed willing to come in two days, it would be for the best. She quickly gave her thanks. They exchanged a few more polite phrases before she bid farewell and left.
Fan Ruoruo saw the girl’s joy and faint depression. She couldn’t help but sigh in her heart. She thought her brother had caused far too much emotional debt. She couldn’t resist saying in a quiet voice, “My brother is in the rear garden, but as there are differences between men and women, it is not appropriate for him to come out and meet you. Please understand his efforts.”
Sun Pin’er found some other meaning in these words the young lady of the Fan family suddenly spoke. She seemed to faintly grasp Sir Fan junior’s difficulties and tenderness toward her. She flushed and felt endlessly grateful. Bowing deeply, she left.
Fan Ruoruo watched the girl’s retreating figure and couldn’t help but laugh bitterly. Turning her head, she caught sight of Fan Xian’s sneaky appearance and smiled. “She’s already left, so what are you peeking around for?” She paused and then said, “But, she understood your meaning. It seemed that she was very grateful.”
She couldn’t help but give Fan Xian a rare glare and said, “Can you not be so meticulous? It looks like you’re being considerate for young lady Sun, but who knows how much deeper she’s sunk.”
Once she said this, Ruoruo realized that her words seemed to be giving off a dark aura. Her heart jumped. She quickly hid it with a smile and said, “There’s something I forgot to tell you. We all heard wrong earlier.”
Fan Xian didn’t pay these words any mind. He just smiled bitterly and sighed, “When did being a good person become a bad thing?”
After successfully avoiding the young lady of the Sun family and placating his sister, Fan Xian had nothing left to do. Crossing his legs, he read Shi Chanli and Su Wenmao’s letters as he quietly hummed. The diplomatic group in Dongyi was still taking their time. Sigu Jian could probably hold out for a few more days. He was not in a rush. It was no big deal to stay in Jingdou for another six or seven days. It had been a long time since he had carefully dealt with his private affairs. This was the perfect opportunity to put some effort into it.
Su Wenmao’s position in North Min’s palace treasury was becoming more and more stable. With Ren Shao’an’s clan member as his helper, in addition to the Overwatch Council and the palace treasury transport company’s close cooperation, the once second sidekick was now the leading figure of the three workshops. Of course, it was mainly because he represented Fan Xian’s will.
Shi Chanli was still traveling all over the world. Five years had passed. The scholar of the past had, half helplessly and half following fate, accepted that he had no destiny with an official career. If he truly wanted to, it would not be difficult for Fan Xian to arrange for him some position. However, Shi Chanli knew that in his teacher’s heart, he was not the same as the other three. The things he had to do were more shameful and important. In order to ensure that Baoyue Brothel’s intelligence network and money circulated without a problem, he was willing to give up some more important things to help his teacher.
Of course, as the present owner of Baoyue Brothel, no one dared to not pay him respect as he traveled. As a merchant, Shi Chanli’s life was much more relaxed and at ease than that of Jichang, Wanli, and such officials. Even if Fan Xian made up his mind to have Shi Chanli re-enter an official position, the brothel owner would have to give it some proper consideration.
He actually still didn’t understand Fan Xian as well as Sang Wen did. Fan Xian built Baoyue Brothels all over the world, but his original reason was truly only because he pitied those poor women whose lives were not in their own hands. He wanted to use Baoyue Brothel to influence the lowest of professions from ancient times to now. He did not completely seek justice but at least leaned toward righteousness.
Fan Xian finished reading Shi Chanli’s letter and couldn’t resist smiling. Looking at the chattering language in the letter, Shi Chanli and Sang Wen had probably not been able to resist their many years of interaction and had, in the end, developed some faint feelings.
Shi Chanli wanted to ask Fan Xian to make the decision but did not speak openly. Fan Xian felt that this matter was funny. He had not intended to push them together. From the beginning, he knew Sang Wen had a lonely jianghu man by her side who wanted to protect her. He didn’t know what the situation was like with Sang Wen now.
Sang Wen’s gentleness, pureness, meticulous, and subdued nature were all qualities Fan Xian liked. Otherwise, he would not have taken her out from the brothel all those years ago. She and Shi Chanli were both grown up. It seemed time to consider such things.
As Fan Xian thought about this, he crumbled the letter in his hand into snowflakes. Tilting his head, he was lost in his thoughts as he sat in his chair. He had calculated the power in his hands many times before, but he had never thought about it with such a clear goal in mind. The Overwatch Council and palace treasury were the two most powerful weapons in his hands. If the Emperor sent down an edict, probably, at most, 20 to 30 percent of the people from the Overwatch Council would stand firmly behind him.
That icy problem would probably stand in the middle. He would certainly not defy the edict but he also shouldn’t turn against me. Fan Xian silently wondered whether his friendship with Yan Bingyun would be able to endure a test. Immediately afterward, he thought that of the entire Overwatch Council His control over the First, Third, and Fourth Bureaus were the strongest. Those who would truly go through hell and back with him were still the people of the Qinian Unit.
On the side of the palace treasury, Fan Xian had begun to act a few years ago. He believed that if the situation changed, he would certainly be able to carry out a powerful retaliation. Not wanting to attack for fear of hurting the innocent, the palace treasury was presently a god-like weapon Fan Xian would use to resist the might of heaven.
Loyalty from Shi Chanli and Su Wenmao were definitely worth trusting. In addition, there was now also Deng Zi Yue in Xiliang. Fan Xian suddenly discovered that the power in his hands was actually quite large. It seemed that it was going to leave the Emperor’s control. No wonder the Emperor was beginning to experiment with the court arrangements.
A slight smile rose to the corners of Fan Xian’s lips. He thought that, in the end, the Emperor still failed to notice the most important point. Before he went to challenge him, he was going to confirm his protection of the power in his hands. He should be able to last a few extra months.
Just like what he had once said to Haitang, this world belonged to the old people. But, it was also theirs. Furthermore, it would ultimately be theirs. All they needed was time.
At the end of April, the spring flowers had not withered under the hot wind. Instead, they had been shaken to the ground by a sudden spring rain. The flowering trees stretching into the street in the south of the city from various courtyards watched helplessly as their clothes were torn to shreds by the seemingly gently but actually heartless spring wind. As the pieces fell to the ground outside the courtyard walls, they were stepped on by the people hurrying back and forth. They sank deeply into the mud with only their pink borders showing.
The manor of Jingdou magistrate Sun Jingxiu was on the large street in the south of the city. Not far behind the manor was the yamen of the Jingdou government. The celebration was not for Sun Jingxiu’s birthday. Rather, it was a celebration of his mother’s 80th birthday. It was indeed an important day. This was the mistake Fan Ruoruo mentioned a few days ago. The old matriarch of the Sun manor was a titled person. Sun Jingxiu also rarely hosted events. When the invitations went out, the officials all had to make an appearance.
Although there were no red lanterns hanging outside the doors of the Sun manor, they had purposely added some decorations of festivity. There were many people delivering gifts, but there were few carriages to be seen. On the long street, there were only housekeepers and servants delivering gifts lists and gift boxes into the manor. They then made some excuse on their master’s behalf before leaving the Sun manor.
Some low-level officials who did not know of the situation were surprised. They thought to themselves, Surely the birthday of the Jingdou magistrate could not be so quiet. It was completely different from the lively scene when other noble manors hosted banquets.
The Jingdou government managed the law, order, and welfare of Jingdou. Most of those who interacted with were various yamens were the dukes of various manors and various officials. Thus, it was difficult to work in the Jingdou government, but the status was very high. When the Second Prince had fought for the line of succession, he had put down a great deal of effort into the Jingdou government. Thus, there were few officials who dared to be disrespectful to the Jingdou government.
The scene now was indeed confusing. The people gathered at the corner door whispered quietly. People would occasionally remember the rumors about the Jingdou magistrate Sun Jingxiu in the officialdom and then felt that this was a natural matter.
Without question, Sun Jingxiu was the luckiest person in the entire Qing officialdom. He was not a proper graduate of the imperial examinations. He was born to a minor official who maintained documents. From the moment he started working, he did copy work in the Jingdou government, which lasted half his life. Given his birth and non-existent background, he could work in such a crucial place for three lifetimes and still not rise to the position of Jingdou magistrate.
During these past seven years in the Qing Kingdom, the Crown Prince and the Second Prince fought for succession, Sir Fan junior had chaotic battles after entering the capital, and the Jingdou government, as a major hub, became a crucial piece in each faction’s fight for power. The Jingdou magistrate was not like the governors of each of the roads. The zhifu of each place, where the sky was high and the Emperor far, allowed them to put their own safety before principle and not lean toward either prince. The seat of this government was in Jingdou. No power would let them slide by. The Jingdou magistrate had to express his opinion.
Therefore, Mei Zhili was forced away and the Jingdou magistrate the Second Prince supported was deposed of by Fan Xian. In about six years, a number of Jingdou magistrates fell. No official was brave enough to forcefully request the position. Thus, Sun Jingxiu, an editor in the Jingdou government, came to the position of the Jingdou magistrate by chance and coincidence.
In the past, the Jingdou magistrate also had to have the post of a Scholar in the court. After Mei Zhili, this rule became lost. When it came to Sun Jingxiu, he was just the Jingdou magistrate with no other titles.
In officialdom, the officials all carried a sliver of jealousy and some disdainful commentary. Sun Jingxiu was the luckiest Jingdou magistrate in history but also the Jingdou magistrate with the least power. Who knew when he would be kicked out of his position?
Sun Jingxiu had his strong points. Long years spent working with documents made it so that he was not good at communicating and visiting other officials. He was not used to fawning over the scholars in the Hall of Governmental Affairs. He focused slowly on his affairs. He was honest and serious. He never took the outside rumors to heart.
It was precisely this nature that made him, since he had not seen the so-called Emperor’s posthumous edict, accept the empress dowager’s orders and did his best to capture Fan Xian in Jingdou during the autumn of the seventh year of the Qing calendar.
The affairs of this world were hard to predict. No one knew the Emperor had not died or that Sir Fan junior was a loyal official. Each time he thought of this, Sun Jingxiu couldn’t help but feel a lingering fear. It was fortunate he had raised a good daughter. This allowed him to find someone to support him in court for the first time.
Furthermore, it was the foremost support in the court.
Thus, the officials became jealous. Rumors about him selling out his daughter for glory spread around for some time before they calmed under Fan Xian’s forceful suppression. Three years later, the officials found that the relationship between the Fan manor and the Jingdou government was not actually very close. Only then they believed that the legends of the boudoir were just legends and there was no further story.
It was because they believed that there were no male and female relations between Sir Fan junior and the Jingdou manor that it was so quiet in front of the Sun manor’s front doors. It was even colder than the trees and flowers by the street side.
After the housekeepers from various manors delivered their gifts and left the Sun manor, they did not leave the south of the city. Instead, they cleverly chose a tea house at the end of the street to rest temporarily. It was not yet noon and this lavishly decorated tea house began to grow lively. The housekeepers, who all knew each other, greeted each other with a smile and were invited to sit inside. In a moment, they had filled half the tea house.
The smiles of the housekeepers were all strange. They all shared a tacit mutual understanding and a faint disdain toward the Jingdou government. The masters of these housekeepers were either officials in the six ministries or people of the three departments. Some were nobles from the Duke’s alley. They had all only sent gifts but had not come personally.
These housekeepers gathering in the teahouse and not returning to their manors as soon as possible to complete their orders also demonstrated that these nobles and officials knew clearly what the banquet at the Sun manor represented.
Sun Jingxiu was muddle-headed. This was the shared thought of these civil and martial officials. Since Scholar He of the Hall of Governmental Affairs had already let it slip, it was because the person in the Palace had such intention. They wondered why he hadn’t quickly resigned his post and why was he still hosting a birthday banquet at such a time?
Was it because he wanted to gauge the attitude of the Palace or the direction the wind was blowing in officialdom? Or, was it something else?
The nobles and officials did not want to do things too absolutely, so they had their housekeepers keep an eye on the Sun manor after delivering the gifts. They were still worried about whether the rumor that had been quiet for almost two years was real.
They didn’t know if the Duke of Danbo would personally come. Given Fan Xian’s status, he should not be disturbed for an event at the Jingdou government. But, officials were all very cunning people and needed a final confirmation.
“Whose sedan chair is that?” A housekeeper, who was chatting leisurely, suddenly asked curiously and narrowed his eyes as he saw a large sedan chair passing the door of the Sun manor. Looking at the number of people and the curtains, the person’s ranking was not low.
The matter of the Jingdou magistrate being changed was still in rumored phase. All of the officials knew that this was the first time the currently favored He Zongwei had independently completed, with the Emperor’s support, an influential adjustment of personnel. Thus, the officials of the various departments all, cleverly, stood behind He Zongwei. No one wanted to stand in his way.
The birthday banquet was a good opportunity to show where one stood. Everyone wanted to be closer to the young and gently Scholar He, so the door of the Sun manor was wretchedly quiet. However, a dazzling sedan chair had stopped outside the door of the Sun manor.
The housekeeper of the vice minister of the Ministry of Appointments jeered laughing, “It’s probably someone who doesn’t participate in politics.”
The vice minister of the Ministry of Appointments was close to He Zongwei and had a thorough knowledge of what was happening. Thus, he never even thought about coming. Even his housekeeper’s tone was slightly mocking.
Unexpectedly, a housekeeper shook his head and said, “That doesn’t seem right. It looks like it’s from Duke Liu’s manor.”
Once these words were spoken, the housekeepers from the Duke’s alley, who came to deliver gifts, rushed to the side of the railing and looked for a moment. Their expressions gradually changed, but they didn’t say anything to those around them. They met each other’s eyes nervously. Before the other housekeepers had reacted, they quietly slipped down the stairs.
The other housekeepers in the tea house did not notice the commotion on the side. They were curious as to why Duke Liu, who rarely participated in politics, would condescend to give face to the Sun family.
Immediately after, another eight-person sedan chair came slowly from the north side of town and came to a stop at the door to the Sun manor. One could see from a distance that the Jingdou magistrate, Sun Jingxiu, had just welcomed the Duke into the manor. He trotted out again and almost collapsed to the ground in shock.
A housekeeper in the tea house cried out in a sharp voice, “It’s King Jing!”
Once these words were said, a strange and silent atmosphere enveloped the previously chaotic tea house. None of the housekeepers were talking anymore. They were all quickly calculating and trying to guess what this shocking scene in front of them meant.
From Duke Liu and King Jing, two noble figures who would never appear at the Jingdou government, some clever people had already thought of another powerful figure. Their faces became pale. They quietly went downstairs in the tea house.
The other housekeepers were still staring nervously at the door of the Sun manor as if they couldn’t believe their eyes. They were unable to believe that Sun Jingxiu, an old loner, would be able to have these two people add to his power.
Two unremarkable black carriages moved along the streets in the south of the city. They steadily drove by the tea house and stopped in front of the Sun manor.
The black carriage was unremarkable but dazzling. The faces of the people in the tea house all paled as they watched the young duke descend from the carriage. They wretchedly watched as the magnificently dressed princess also slowly walked up the steps on the arms of the duke.
In an instant, the tea house became absolutely silent. All of the housekeepers charged down the stairs at the speed of lightning and headed toward their manors.
They had to inform their masters that Sir Fan junior had come, Princess Chen had come, King Jing had come, Duke Liu had come… Who do you think you are? Go, quickly! Even if the Duke of Danbo only wanted to slap He Zongwei’s face, don’t you still have to go watch with a smile?
For a moment, the manors of the officials in the south side of Jingdou descended into chaos. Some looked for clothes, some sent messages, and some prepared new gifts. All of the officials only had one goal, which was to go to Sun manor.
Most of the officials who were not concerned with this matter vaguely guessed why the little Duke had gone to the Sun manor. They were stunned but also couldn’t help but feel slightly excited. Jingdou had been too peaceful for too long. Watching to see how Sir Fan junior humiliated the scholar and various officials could be considered a decent show.