Sunday, June 30, 2019

Spring Once More ch43

Translator: ayszhang
Editor: Marcia
Beta reader: Dairytea

Spring Once More chapter 43
(Traditional Chinese cover scanned by Dairytea)

Chapter Forty-three

“These two are my recently adopted sons,” he explains. “I spotted them at the Yunxi Troupe. Very good-looking and well spoken. They haven’t seen much of the world yet, so I pray for your patience with them, Your Highness.”
I had a discussion with Fu Qingshu on the way here. These investigations are like battles. The key is to lure the enemy in and learn about them. If we had come acting proper and clean, that would have done nothing but warn the corrupt ones to make our investigation more difficult. The better method is to drink the alcohol, eat the food, take the money, hold the beautiful women – whatever they have to offer basically. When they consider us one of them and show us their cards, we’ll just destroy the whole table. Easy results, enjoyable process.
Fu Qingshu was impressed, too. “Well, aren’t you clever?”
I dug the hole for myself. Fu Qingshu and Chuxian are staring into each other’s eyes while my arms have been taken up by the two sons. And what a wise parent he is! One is named Ruyi and the other Chengxin.[1] The way they behave puts even the top brothel act, Chuxian, to shame. Not even the prince’s beloved Master Ruoshui had such cultivation when he was their age. I feel beads of sweat continuously rolling down my spine. Saying that they want pocket money, their four hands keep reaching under my collar and up my sleeves. What the fuck. I’d only ever been the molester, not the molested. Especially not by two little dipshits!
I cast a desperate look at Fu Qingshu only to find him fully enjoying himself. Chuxian is there wiping at the oily patch with her pink handkerchief, and he’s watching her with a pleased smile.
“Only the emperor’s future brother-in-law could have such fortune with beauties!” I can’t help but make a snide remark.
The chancellor’s hand twitches around his beard. “So the young marquess is to wed the princess! What delightful news! I’d like to toast. Advisor, take Chuxian and bring a new round to the table.”
“Chancellor Liu,” I add as I wrestle a sleeve from Chengxin, “It’s quite hot today. I think it’d be best to have the two young masters rest, too. We can’t have them getting heatstroke.”
The advisor leads them all out accordingly. I flash a smug look at Fu Qingshu before returning to my food.
After another round of alcohol, the chancellor informs us, “Having been notified of your arrival, we readied your temporary residence. We invite you to take rest there after the meal.”
The heavens are watching over me. I had been worrying about finding an inn, and a temporary residence falls from the sky. If I’d known, I would have ridden into town on a big, shiny horse and gone straight there. We could’ve avoided all the hassle.
So afterwards, the chancellor takes us to check the place out. He also says that the imperial guards the emperor had allotted us came to Huizhou ahead of us and reported to the chancellor. However, because we hadn’t arrived, they dared not enter before us, so those men are staying elsewhere.
As we enter the property, Fu Qingshu decides to tell me quietly, “This complex used to be called Suyuan.”
It used to be called Suyuan, a villa owned by the Su house.
Three years ago, when Chai Rong came to Zhengzhou to investigate the annual tribute, Su Yanzhi’s brother, Su Xingzhi, gifted this villa as the prince’s temporary residence. This time round, Prince Ma Xiaodong is also going to be staying at another one of the Su’s villas in Yangzhou, the next stop. Apparently, that place is an even bigger deal since it was used to host the emperor himself about two years ago.
Fu Qingshu tells me all this while we drink tea. For sure, it’s difficult to crack a whip with gifts in hand. That’s why even when the emperor’s desk collapsed from the stacks of memoranda accusing Su Xingzhi, the head of the Liangjiang[2] Chamber of Commerce and the holder of the royal textiles warrant, of corruption, the Su house still stood firm. Only after Su Xingzhi suddenly died a year later did the house and its wealth fall apart. Nonetheless, the name Su still rings loud and clear in official situations.
I sigh at the seriousness of this talk.
“Brother Fu, you’ve been building up to something with all this information. Just get to the point.”
He flicks the tea leaves with the cup lid. “The warrant has been reassigned, but the disposition of the spot for the Chamber of Commerce still remains uncertain. Usually this position is inherited, but Su Xingzhi disrupted this tradition by stealing it from the Jiang house of Yangzhou. For the past year or so, many powerful merchant houses of the Liangjiang region have caused trouble fighting for the position.”
I watch him fret. If he’s not even twenty and already sounds this old, I can’t imagine how he will sound when he is old.
“The commerce world is the same as the martial arts world. You just let them play it out. As long as they don’t disturb the government, why bother?”
He sighs for once. “The emperor sent us for two reasons, didn’t he? First to investigate the annual tribute, and second to settle the position of the chamber once and for all.”
Huh. Why hadn’t I heard about it?
“Li’l Marquess, I’ve only heard the former, not the latter. I bet it’s a special mission the emperor assigned you. You deal with it yourself. I got a headache just from hearing you explain it.”
Then I grin. “It must be a test to see if you’re fit to his brother-in-law. If you perform well, the princess will be yours to hold.”
His face is emotionless as he puts down his tea cup.
My personal quarters in the complex have been decorated with heaps of gold – just the way I like it. I can’t help but praise the chancellor, and his face brightens with joy. Another feast is held that night, and everything is more extravagant.
“Let us drink to our hearts’ content,” I toast, cup in hand. “Leave the extra things aside.”
Clever as he is, the chancellor understands. Nobody was brought out, not Ruyi, Chengxin or Chuxian.
After washing, I’m walking back to my room when I hear the announcement of the second patrol. In the corridor, I ask Xiao-Shun to go back to Su manor to inform them of my stay here. I open the room door. There’s someone sitting in my bed.
I eye the dude with sleepy eyes. Fuck off! Where’s the creativity at? Can’t you do something else for once?
What’s with the chancellor’s taste? If he wants to send me a prostitute, at least find an acceptable one. Face-wise, he’s a tad bit better than the two boys from lunchtime, but to try and pull off a striptease… To strip, you’ve got to at least do it on Pei Qixuan’s level! I yawn and turn around, but before I can get a foot over the threshold, the dude hits the floor on his knees, crying.
“Your Highness, please, I beg you. Chancellor Liu said if you were not pleased with my service, he’d tear our building down and have me… Your Highness, please. I don’t expect such a lowly thing to get your affection, but please spare some pity and grace for me…”
I sigh. Such a cliché. Plus, my good man, you’re not playing a soap opera. Neither are you a girl.
“Wipe your snot, get up and go to bed for now. I’ll tell the chancellor some good words in the morning.”
The grateful stripper bro stands up.
“Am I sleeping in the bed or are you sleeping on the floor?”
The grateful stripper bro is also very smart.
“Your Lordship in the bed and I on the floor, naturally.”
In the morning, I step out of my room to find Fu Qingshu standing by the hardy banana tree just outside my door. Looks like he has been waiting for me.
He asks with a strange smirk, “Did you sleep well, Your Lordship?”
Before I can answer, the stripper bro slips out from behind and mumbles, “By your leave, Your Highness.” Of course, he doesn’t forget the deep bows to me and the marquess.
Fu Qingshu’s eyes trail the stripper bro. Oh damn it. I’m clean and innocent. I have nothing to be afraid of. Nothing!
The chancellor comes after breakfast to greet us. His first question: “Your Seventh Highness, did you sleep well last night?”
The young marquess fans himself. I rub my chin and guffaw.
“Quite well, ha ha, quite well.”

[1] ‘As you wish’ and ‘matching your desire.’
[2] The ancient provinces of Jiangnan and Jiangxi, including present-day Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Anhui and Shanghai.

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ayszhang: More misunderstandings to come :) Everyone is running in circles

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