Legend of Great Tang’s Twin Dragons - Volume 49 C3
Book 49 Chapter 3 – Flying Money Business
Xu Ziling strolled along the busy-night-and-day, lights-unending, gorgeous-carriage-and-strong-horses, people-following-on-his-heels-shoulder-to-shoulder main street of Beili. Suddenly he deeply felt Kou Zhong’s lonely feeling that night.
Perhaps it was because of the series of worries that felt like as one fell, the next followed, so that his mood was beginning to decline, he felt like the initiative was no longer in their hands. Whether it was dealing with Shi Zhixuan, or dealing with Chi Shengchun, they could only passively wait for the opportunity. Translated by foxs
His physical body was in Beili of Chang’an, where there was no night or day, yet his mind was on the depth of the clouds, whose whereabouts was unknown – Shi Feixuan, and on the far-away-in-Bashu Shi Qingxuan. However, he could only silently endure everything, bearing the pain of this recollection alone. This was the secret in his innermost being; he could never reveal this secret to anybody, not even to Kou Zhong.
This moment someone was galloping over by his side and turned into a side street. Xu Ziling was able to see the person’s figure on the horseback, and recognized him as Wang Bodang, currently Li Mi’s closest, number one subordinate in Chang’an. His heart was moved, he focused his mind to follow him.
Chi Shengchun personally introduced Kou Zhong’s Cai Yuanyong to the various guests around the banquet table. As soon as they were seated, Chi Shengchun asked the ‘Great Immortal’ Hu Fo in full deferential manner, “Xiaoxian has not returned yet?” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Hu Fo smiled and responded calmly, “This wild girl is very difficult to discipline, even as her Die, I am unable to answer your question.”
His witty response immediately provoked roar of laughter.
Only then did Kou Zhong realize that the other empty seat must belong to Hu Xiaoxian. Inwardly he praised Hu Fo as an experienced and careful man, for his ability not to show any misgivings in his heart toward Chi Shengchun.
Lei Jiuzhi turned to Kou Zhong; frowning, he asked, “Where’s Wentong?”
Kou Zhong pretended to be nervous, he cast a glance toward Chi Shengchun first before replying, “He came across a friend, ha!”
Just by looking at his saying-without-meaning-it attitude, anybody would know that he was inventing crazy nonsense to absolve Kuang Wentong of any blame; the fact must be that Kuang Wentong had gone AWOL.
Showing his understanding, Chi Shengchun changed the subject by saying, “Chang’an has many scenic spots; which ones have Situ Xiong visited?”
Ren Jun’s Situ Furong replied in his stammering voice, “Which places in Chang’an worth visiting?”
Xue Wanche laughed and said, “Wen Daren is the most qualified person on this banquet table to answer Da Laoban’s question, because he is the one making arrangements on all tour itineraries of foreign guests coming to Chang’an.”
Wen Yanbo laughed calmly and said, “Xue Da Jiangjun is teasing me again. The places in Chang’an worth visiting vary from person to person. As far as I’m concerned, sitting in Shang Lin Yuan, I am perfectly satisfied, no need to go anywhere else.” Translated by foxs
Yin Zuwen blurted out laughing and said, “I never thought Wen Daren will be so easy to satisfy. My situation is somewhat different; after I am satisfied in Shang Lin Yuan, I would go to Ming Tang Wo or Six-Happiness across the street to look for other satisfactions.”
His words were heavy with insinuations, extremely vague, so that it provoked another round of laughter.
Kou Zhong relaxed, feeling that Yin Zuwen, Wen Yanbo and the others, these men seasoned in social intercourse, have grown spring [season, could also mean joyful or youthful or love or lust or life] at the corner of their mouth, delighting in the calm, wild leisure. More importantly, Xue Wanche finally moved his attention away from him; evidently he no longer had any doubt about him. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Sha Chenggong, who has been painstakingly waiting for a chance to speak up, finally grasped this opportunity to say, “Chang’an has many gardens that visitors can enjoy, for example Ling Si Yuan at Changming Lane, Yao Yuan at Sheng Ping Lane, Feng Ming Yuan at Ti Xiang Lane [all ‘yuan’ mean park]. But in terms of reputation and scale, nothing can compare to Le You Yuan and Qu Jiang Chi [chi – pond/lake]. The former is the city’s highland, located between Sheng Ping Lane and Xin Chang Lane; standing tall and seeing far, with a different opening-up-new-horizon feeling of freedom. But speaking about landscape, Qu Jiang Lake is still Chang’an’s best. It is located at the southeast corner of the city, half inside the city, half outside, longer on the north-south direction, shorter on the east-west; both shores are curving around, parks and palace halls unbroken, with undulating buildings and pavilions, surrounded by flowers and plants, shade trees revolve around it. On top of that, there are Xiao Rong Yuan and Xing Yuan built along the river, as well as the small and exquisite, elegant and delicate Qu Jiang Pavilion on the coastal area, making people doubt whether one is in heaven rather than in the human world.”
For the first time Kou Zhong discovered the strong points of the Second Young Master of the Sha Family; he was absolutely not bad in terms of eating, drinking, and be merry.
Song Shidao cast his gaze toward Sha Chenggong, his expression was saying, ‘you spoke such words to my boss, it’s like playing the lute to a cow [idiom: casting pearls before a swine], it’s just perfect.’
Sure enough, being quick-witted, Ren Jun said, “What is the most profitable business in Chang’an right now?”
Everybody was stunned, thinking that everything that Sha Chenggong said just now, not even half a sentence entered this big boorish broker’s ears.
Chi Shengchun laughed aloud, he said, smoothly and evasively, “When it comes to business, I dare say that nobody present can compare to Situ Xiong; therefore, the question Situ Xiong ask should be: what is currently the most profitable business opportunity in Chang’an. Am I right?” Translated by foxs
Ren Jun put the result of painstaking effort by Song Shidao and Lei Jiuzhi to train him in full display; he nodded and said, “Chi Xiong is indeed a person who knows my heart. City and market, where there is a city, there must be a market. Cities are military defense composed of city walls and ditches and rivers to safeguard the safety of its people; markets are the place where commodities exchange hands, it represents the economic activity necessary for the livelihood of the people inside and outside the city. Without cities and markets, businesses cannot grow, no matter what.”
Wen Yanbo praised, “Situ Xiong is really knowledgeable in business. It is easiest for people with eyes for business to start one in densely populated places. It’s funny that Situ Xiong’s remark just now was pointing out at the currently most profitable business in Chang’an, which is operating a shipping company, which is equivalent to warehouse. As long as you have a dozen or so shops in the East and West, two markets, or on the crisscrossing main streets, you could rent them to people coming from various regions to do business and earn the rent commission. Particularly Hu [barbarian/non-Han] people who make light of traveling a thousand li, about a dozen days of rent can be counted using gold, the profit is staggering.”
Hu Fo laughed and said, “The property that Situ Xiong hold as collateral cannot be considered small number, so you could think about this quick profit-making business.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
From the bottom of his heart Kou Zhong started to admire Xu Ziling. The subject that everybody was talking about did not hold the slightest interest in his heart, but Ren Jun was showing that it was good opportunity for Situ Furong.
Assuming the haughty manner of an expert, Ren Jun said, “Lodging houses and shops, let the people use those places to stay or keep their stock in buying or selling, my idea is one step further, why not use the lodging houses and shops as a business where people deposit money, coupled with the convenience of flying money? The business I am doing will involve all the merchants in the entire city and market. In fact, this is precisely one of the purposes for which I have come to Chang’an. Naturally I will rely on the support of all gentlemen sitting here, or perhaps gentlemen can see how to cooperate. I, Situ Furong have teeth of gold, the words that I said are never empty.”
Everybody was emotionally moved.
‘Brilliant!’ Kou Zhong called inwardly, thinking that this must have come out of Song Shidao’s brains; Lei Jiuzhi certainly did not have such intelligence.
Yin Zuwen spoke seriously, “Situ Xiong’s proposal is indeed brilliant, I wonder if you could explain the outline one step further.”
With assurance and composure, Ren Jun explained, “Actually, it is a business of money farming and money tickets, and I am still just getting started in this respect. Merchants are rushing about in all parts of the country to make money, once their money purse is full, won’t you agree that their first consideration is to put the money in a safe place? They will need an absolutely trustworthy money farm to deposit their money either for long term or short term storage. Secondly, carrying chest after chest of copper coins on their journey is cumbersome and inconvenient, plus they must hire bodyguards. My flying money will be some kind of a favor to them. For example, they deposit the money into a money farm in Chang’an, they could cash the money tickets in Jiangdu and use the cash to purchase River Huai’s salt. We only make the profit on the service charge and commission.” Translated by foxs
Hu Fo sighed and said, “This is akin to having a large amount of cash in hands for a long time, it would provide the convenience in doing anything.”
“Die! What convenience are you talking about?”
Everybody turned their eyes to the door. The newcomer was precisely the arriving-late, her-splendor-radiating-all-around Hu Xiaoxian.
Xu Ziling flipped over the rear courtyard wall, borrowing the dark of the night and the trees in the garden as a cover, he stealthily slipped in the direction of the outer hall.
Wang Bodang was very crafty; he pretended to enter the Ming Tang Wo, but after leaving his horse, he leaped over the back garden’s wall by himself, and then went to a courtyard house, which seemed to belong to ordinary people, located by the Yong An Canal, not far from Ming Tang Wo. If the one following his track was an ordinary martial art master instead of Xu Ziling, surely he would be able to throw off the tracker. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
This moment, the courtyard house was without the least bit of light, but Xu Ziling’s super-human senses knew that there were more than a dozen people lying in ambush all over the courtyard, acting as hidden sentry posts. Inside and outside, the house was under strict surveillance.
Under such circumstances, even a brilliant master like Xu Ziling felt having-the-mind-but-lacking-the-strength, hence he could only take the risk and gamble a little. Taking advantage of the instant while Wang Bodang was knocking the door and attracting everybody’s attention, he flashed inside the building, went pass several hurdles, and felt much more relaxed. He heard voices coming from the middle section. Xu Ziling did not dare to get too close; he hid inside one of the bedroom in the rear section, and focused his power into his pair of ears to eavesdrop the other side’s conversation.
A deep and low voice said, “We already remove all obstacles for Mi Gong [Duke Mi]; it shouldn’t be a problem for Mi Gong to leave the Pass.”
Xu Ziling was shaken inwardly, he recognized the speaker as the Laoda [the first, the leader of a group] of Jingzhao Lian Yang WenGan. He had never thought that after his rebellion against Li Yuan failed, he still had the audacity to remain in Chang’an. No wonder inside and outside the building was under such a strict guard. But Xu Ziling was greatly puzzled: why would Yang WenGan help Li Mi? How could Li Mi trust him? How did they gang up with each other?
Yang WenGan continued, “As long as you could leave Chang’an, we have a way to guarantee your safety in leaving the Pass.”
Wang Bodang muttered to himself irresolutely for a moment, and then he spoke in low voice, “In that case, I will go back to consult Mi Gong, to see whether he ought to formally submit his proposal to Li Yuan early tomorrow morning.” Translated by foxs
Yang WenGan said, “He must not raise this matter up in public, if there is any cabinet minister who is not being tactful opposing it, they might deliberately complicate the issue. Especially Tian Ce Fu people, they would refer to the fact that since Qin Wang is in military expedition to Luoyang, any action must be deferred to oppose this matter. Once there are other people in agreement, Li Yuan will not want to make Li Shimin unhappy during this time, he might try to be clever and end up with egg on his face.”
Wang Bodang said, “Then it would be best if Mi Gong ask to see Li Yuan in private.”
Yang WenGan said, “Li Yuan might not be willing to see Mi Gong in private; besides, there must be other people present, so it would not be appropriate either. However, no need to worry, there will be a polo match [lit. horse ball] in the palace tomorrow. Li Yuan loves excitement the most, he always welcomes cabinet ministers either as spectators or participants. I already have someone makes the arrangement; Mi Gong is going to be invited. At that time, if Mi Gong, sketching it in light shades, mentioned his cherished desire, as soon as Li Yuan give him a nod, it will work.”
Listening in the dark, Xu Ziling felt something was definitely not right. Yang WenGan should have bad intentions. If he had really removed all obstacles, plus they already obtained Li Yuan’s approval, why would they need to imitate the dog and steal the chicken like this? Yet momentarily he was unable to see through Yang WenGan’s intention and purpose. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
If Li Yuan refused Li Mi, then it shouldn’t be a problem instead. Supposing Li Yuan really agreed, the problem would be a lot more complicated.
Wang Bodang gratefully said, “If we are successful this time, we will definitely fulfill what we promised to you.”
Yang WenGan said, “It’s not appropriate for you and I to stay in this place too long, let’s do it per our agreement.”
Xu Ziling’s heart sank straight down; he thought that if by tomorrow he still could not contact Shen Luoyan, due to Shen Luoyan was still thinking fondly of her former master, there would be a very good chance that she might fall into the enemy’s scheme, and would be caught in a consigned-to-eternal-damnation situation.
He must never let this matter to happen.
As soon as Hu Xiaoxian’s fragrant-self arrived, it was like one red dot among a cluster of the ten thousand greens; she instantly poured a different kind of vivacious vitality into this world of men.
Chi Shengchun was showing her the most eager attention; he personally pulled the chair for her, and waited upon her to sit down.
Hu Xiaoxian had her hair rolled up in a bun on top of her head like a coiling dragon, her face was adorned with cinnabar color and flowery shine, she wore powdery-green tight-sleeved tight-fitting dress, mauve shawl, and milky white narrow long skirt, her feet were in shoes with pointy tip, which put her graceful figure in full display. Although her beauty was still some distance away from Shang Xiuxun, Shi Feixuan, that level of beauties, but within her beautiful eyes, flowing desires, there was a burst of flirtatious, under-the-surface seductive appearance; it was extremely attractive. Translated by foxs
Under the sweep of her beautiful eyes, which could snatch the soul [mortal soul] and hook the spirit [immortal soul], Kou Zhong mused that perhaps other than her Ol’ Dad, everybody had to control his lust and restrain his soul. At least she was able to move Kou Zhong’s heart.
Hu Xiaoxian was sitting to Kou Zhong’s right. Appearing to be treating him favorably, or perhaps she had a different idea in mind, she liberally sent a coquettish glance toward this neighbor first. Chi Shengchun, who was still standing behind her, hurriedly made the introduction, and then he proceeded by introducing Ren Jun, Song Shidao and Lei Jiuzhi, three men.
Hu Xiaoxian knew that Ren Jun across the table was the ‘principal master’; smiling sweetly, she said, “I hope Xiaoxian will never need to visit Situ Da Laoban as a customer!”
The crowd was laughing heartily, knowing that she did not understand that Ren Jun’s business was not limited to pawnshop at all.
Ren Jun’s expression was a bit awkward; his two eyes lit up as he was staring at Hu Xiaoxian, unexpectedly he forgot to answer. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Kou Zhong felt strange; if, according to the previous plan, Ren Jun was competing against Chi Shengchun for Hu Xiaoxian’s heart, then his performance right now certainly reached super-brilliant level, even Kou Zhong would not have any doubt. However, presently they already decided to abandon the original plan, if under current circumstances Ren Jun was unable to restrain his emotions, it would be thoroughly terrible, because how could the truth be swept away by a woman? He could not help casting his gaze toward Song Shidao and Lei Jiuzhi, only to see the two were showing a look of consternation over Ren Jun’s action, hence he felt the turn of events was not too encouraging even more.
Chi Shengchun returned to his seat.
Pretending to be displeased, the ‘Great Immortal’ Hu Fo spoke to Hu Xiaoxian, “Xian’er, why did you arrive this late? You haven’t apologized to everybody yet.”
Hu Xiaoxian showed a being-blamed-wrongly expression, revealing a different cute and pitiful, tender and gentle charm, which was able to arouse menfolk’s sympathy the most; she expressed her thanks first and then apologized. Her pretty eyebrows lightly knitted, she explained, “Xiaoxian suffered untold hardships to get away from the imperial palace and rushed over here!”
And then her beautiful eyes glanced at the two empty chairs by her side, she pouted her small mouth, she said craftily and unruly, “Some people are even later than Xiaoxian!”
Whether it was her expression or movement, everything was tender, charming, and pleasant to the eyes, her seductive appearance grew without restraint, provoking people to be lost in wild and fanciful thoughts. Translated by foxs
At this time, someone came into the hall and whispered a few words in Yin Zuwen’s ear, drawing everybody’s attention back to Yin Zuwen. After the man left, Yin Zuwen cheerfully said, “Qian Xiaojie has just returned, as soon as she is ready, she is going to attend upon the guests.”
Xue Wanche laughed and said, “Tonight we can go to Da Xian and Chi Ye’s gambling establishments to bet a couple of hands and try our luck. These past few months, only people with a lot of luck are able to see Qian Xiaojie in Shang Lin Yuan, the day before yesterday Qi Wang already made appointment with her, but she forgot. Qi Wang cannot do anything about it.”
Kou Zhong and the others mused that Ji Qian’s arrogant was really big, she did not consider even Li Yuanji worthy in her eyes.
Wen Yanbo said, “Let’s not mention it is difficult to see Qian Xiaojie in Shang Lin Yuan, she also seldom went to the casino. If anybody can tell me the reason, I am willing to prepare a table of wine and dishes to express my thanks.”
Sha Chenggong laughed and said, “Later on, if Wen Daren personally ask her, won’t that work too?”
Hu Xiaoxian laughed tenderly and said, “The load on women’s mind can only be told to women, whatever Wen Daren say won’t count.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Talking cheerfully and wittily, the atmosphere was growing more harmonious.
Ren Jun finally returned to normal. Not knowing what to say, he blurted out a question to Hu Xiaoxian, “Just now Hu Xiaojie said that it was with great difficulty that you were able to get away from the imperial palace; what actually happened?”
Hu Xiaoxian assumed a displeased, touching facial expression; casting a sidelong glance toward Ren Jun, she waited until the latter was stunned as if he was electrocuted, and then she giggled and said, “What else but for the important polo match that is going to be held in the palace tomorrow? I don’t know whether Huangshang was in a particularly good mood, he practiced quite for an entire sichen; how could Xiaoxian dare to leave?”
“Polo match?” Ren Jun asked dumbly.
Hu Xiaoxian’s beautiful eyes floated toward Kou Zhong on her left, with a smile on her face, she said, “We have a master polo player in here. Hey! I should have said two masters. If Situ Laoban wants to know what polo is all about, it will be very convenient. Just now someone even mentioned the two of them in Huangshang’s presence!”
Everybody’s eyes turned to Kou Zhong.
Kou Zhong, Lei Jiuzhi, Song Shidao and Ren Jun cried ‘Bad!’ inwardly at the same time. Listening to the tone of Hu Xiaoxian’s voice, and also looking at her expression, as well as the reaction of everybody around the table, clearly the two polo masters were the ‘Taihang Shuang Jie’ Cai Yuanyong and Kuang Wentong. Once they did not cope well, immediately their plot would fall through and stand exposed.
Kou Zhong came from a humble origin, this kind of fashionable game popular among the influential officials, not only it has not even entered a single aperture of his head [idiom: don’t understand a word], he did not even know anything at all. How would he explain to his own boss what exactly the game of polo was? Translated by foxs
Ren Jun regretted that he asked the question, while Lei Jiuzhi regretted that he had the two boys disguised as such a pain-in-the-posterior-end Taihang Shuang Jie.
Kou Zhong cast his request-to-help toward Song Shidao first, and then pretending to be modest, he said, “I just love to play polo, but about the history, origin and development of polo, I don’t have any knowledge. Hey!”
This was an answer within no answers, he passed the ball into Song Shidao’s court, a man who came from a noble background.
Song Shidao inwardly praised Kou Zhong’s quick wit. He calmly turned to Ren Jun and said, “Polo originated from Tubo [or Tufan, old name for Tibet]. After spreading to Persia in the west, it also spread to the north. The match is between teams of riders fighting over a hollow wooden polo ball painted red or with decorative design, using curved stick to strike the ball into a one-chi square hole on the opposite side’s wooden wall to win. Outside the field, people are beating the drums and play music to cheer; it is extremely exciting and lively. Not only the players must pay particular attention to the skill to strike the ball, they must be experts in equestrian skill as well; not a single one is indispensable. Therefore, some people call it ‘military show’.”
Sighing in praise, Yin Zuwen said, “Not only Shen Xiong is a connoisseur famous under the heavens, I did not expect you also have deep knowledge of various games. I never knew that polo originated from Tubo; I thought it was a popular game among the Tujue people.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Kou Zhong secretly breathed a sigh of relief, he began to understand the meaning of Hu Xiaoxian’s look when she was sitting down; he also knew inwardly that there would be repercussion on this matter later, for example, if Li Yuan invited them, the Taihang Shuang Jie to demonstrate their skill, what should they do?
Hu Fo suddenly laughed and said, “Xian’er! Why don’t you show us the gadget that Die gave you on your birthday this year? Let Shen Xiong look it over.”
Song Shidao was slightly startled, knowing that Hu Fo, who himself was skillful in appraising goods, wanted to test his skill in this aspect. Hu Fo naturally did not know that Song Shidao had already ‘greatly spread out his divine might’ by indirectly appraising the paintings on Li Yuan’s behalf. Otherwise, this matter could be avoided.
Under everybody’s expectant gaze, Hu Xiaoxian, somewhat shyly, opened up her collar a little bit to reveal a snow white, slender jade neck, and then, using a provoking-wild-and-fanciful-thoughts captivating movement, her jade hands reached inside her collar.
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