Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
After Zhang Xiaohua returned to Huanxi mountain villa, his life returned to the habit in the past. He initially thought that after being away for so long, little second Nie and the rest would surround him to inquire on his whereabouts so he already prepared a huge dump of lies to feed them with. However, reality was not the case and when everyone saw him return, their eyes revealed their surprise but their words were simple questions of concern. Zhang Xiaohua felt strange as though he had used a fist to hammer onto soft cotton, but at the same time, he felt admiration that these reputable sect disciples had such upright personalities!
Just as Zhang Xiaohua was about to throw away all the lies he had stored in his head, a group of flies buzzed around him in the night with Ma Jing as their leader. During the previous time when Zhang Xiaohua got injured, he returned with a higher position and was subjected to their ridicule and bullying, but now that he returned after disappearing for so long, everyone assumed that he had already departed for eternity. Since Zhang Xiaohua reappeared again, how could they not be surprised and curious?
Hence, they were like flies that drawn to rubbish as they buzzed around Zhang Xiaohua all day to ask the latter on the happenings for the past two months. Zhang Xiaohua initially wanted to ignore them but he was too gracious to let them down, so after some inquiries, he recounted the batch of lies he initially prepared for little second Nie until Ma Jing and the rest were full from their gossip. Finally, they dispersed and left Zhang Xiaohua alone, while Zhang Xiaohua rubbed his nose helplessly and thought, “nose-ah, nose, please don’t blame me. It is not that I don’t care about you, but I was forced to do this. People in Jianghu do not belong to themselves.”
In the morning of the next day, Zhang Xiaohua was still unaware of the big biscuit which dropped from the sky and he continued his three main activities as in the past – practice martial arts, eat, and work in the fields. Even though Ou Yan has instructed that his time was free for him to spend and he did not have to work in the fields anymore, he had already gotten used to the work there and would feel reluctant to leave the fields. Furthermore, spring was coming so there was more work to do like weeding and watering, so Zhang Xiaohua was more than happy to lend a helping hand. At that moment, he was striking the little hoe onto the ground when he heard someone call his name from the side.
When he raised his head, he saw two people standing beside the field. They were He Tianshu and Qiu Tong. He smiled and went over to greet them, “Elder sister Qiu Tong, why have you come?”
Qiu Tong smiled back and replied, “Xiaohua, you sure are busy. Hasn’t the young mistress said that you are free to do whatever you like, why are you still working in the fields?”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “I have grown up in the fields and have gotten accustomed to it, so it is better if I come over to help.”
Qiu Tong said, “In that case, squad leader He can save on finding more help. Zhang Xiaohua, come over quickly, young mistress is looking for squad leader He and you to discuss about some matters.”
He Tianshu who was at a side asked in a puzzled tone, “Me as well? What matter is it?”
Qiu Tong smiled and said, “About this, I am pretty clueless myself. The young mistress was acting all mysterious and she refused to say anything else.”
Zhang Xiaohua said, “Alright, I will be up right away.”
After finishing his sentence, Zhang Xiaohua tidied himself up and followed Qiu Tong and He Tianshu to the inner courtyard. Qiu Tong pointed to the door and said, “The two of you can enter by yourself, our young mistress is waiting for you in there. I still have other things to do so I won’t be accompanying you.”
He Tianshu said, “Alright, go off with your work then. It is not our first time here anyway.”
He led Zhang Xiaohua in after finishing his sentence, but Qiu Tong called out to Zhang Xiaohua and asked, “Zhang Xiaohua, I am going over to Lotus escort for a while. Is there anything you would like me to do or a message you wish to pass on to your brother?”
Zhang Xiaohua pondered for a while before replying, “There’s nothing much, you can tell my elder brother that I am doing well so he doesn’t have to worry.”
Qiu Tong nodded her head and left hurriedly.
Zhang Xiaohua followed He Tianshu into the main hall within the inner courtyard.
Ou Yan was sitting on a chair inside the main hall looking slightly anxious, she smiled when she saw the two arrived and said, “Both of you finally came, what took you so long?”
Zhang Xiaohua answered somewhat apologetically, “Elder sister Ou, I was working in the fields so it took me more time to get ready, sorry to keep you waiting.”
Ou Yan’s expression changed immediately when she heard this, she smiled and said, “It’s fine, how can I blame you if you are still so humble and diligent? Come, the two of you follow me to somewhere, there is something that needs to be settled.”
Zhang Xiaohua and He Tianshu both felt strange when Ou Yan did not explain her purpose of calling them and they exchanged glances before following behind Ou Yan to leave the main hall.
Pingyang city, Lotus escort, within fourth master Wen’s room. Fourth master Wen and his nephew Yu Deyi were drinking some fragrant tea while chatting idly when someone hurriedly entered the courtyard to the front of the door.
Hearing the footsteps, fourth master Wen raised his head to see the visitor, it was station head Luo.
Fourth master Wen involuntarily wrinkled his brows when he saw the visitor but he changed to a slight smile and said, “So it’s station head Luo, come in quickly.”
Station head Luo smiled as he walked into the room, the two parties exchanged greetings before sitting down. Fourth master Wen said, “Station head Luo-ah, it has been hard on you recently. This success of this recent long job is all thanks to you, I shall remember your contribution this time and will mention it in front of the overall station head in the future.”
Station head Luo hurriedly stood, smiled and said, “Its nothing, all this is part of my responsibility and due to fourth master’s usual guidance.”
Fourth master Wen smiled and said, “Station head Luo is so funny, this is obviously due to your merit and I have only moved my mouth a little on usual days.”
Station head Luo rearranged his expression and said seriously, “Fourth master Wen’s words are too humble. As the saying goes, a trip in the sea depends on its captain, I would not know the direction to go if not for your guidance and my hard work would be wasted in that case. Hence, it is obvious that your contribution exceeds mine this time.”
Yu Deyi glanced at fourth master Wen, smiled and said, “Fourth master doesn’t have to be modest, what station head Luo said is true. As the saying goes, a soldier is limited but a general has more power, there are still many affairs in the station that relies on you to settle.”
Fourth master Wen became overjoyed upon hearing this and he stroke his beard with a wide smile on his face.
When the other party sat down again, fourth master Wen asked, “Why has station head Luo come here today?”
Station head Luo gave a smile and looked towards Yu Deyi, he said, “Its nothing much, there are just some matters in the station that I wish to report to fourth master.”
Yu Deyi took the hint and stood up immediately, he said, “In that case, fourth master, I shall take my leave for now and visit you another day.”
Fourth master Wen raised his hand and said, “It’s alright, Deyi, sit down for now. I still have something to discuss with you. Station head Luo, just talk freely, Deyi is my nephew and part of the martial arts school division so he can be considered as a member of the station. Some things should not be hidden from him, don’t you agree?”
Station head Luo pondered and said, “No problem, this is regarding matters of the station so Yu Deyi should know about them as well.”
Yu Deyi sat back down after hearing this.
Both of them then heard station head Luo said, “This is actually not a large matter, just that the recent job was quite far and it crossed over the New Year. Because the job took a longer time to complete, some people in the escort team whose loyalty is insufficient tried to milk for more benefits and ask for twice the pay, fourth master, don’t you think that this is unreasonable? Their food and accommodation is covered by the station and an allowance is also provided, the station does not short-change its employees yet these people have no conscience. Hence, I gave them a severe scolding and taught them a lesson.”
After speaking up to here, station head Luo paused for a moment, looked at fourth master Wen’s expression and seeing that there was no change, he continued, “But…”
He clenched his teeth as though setting down his determination and said, “But the delivery hand Zhang Xiaohu whom you appointed as my deputy thought that he has become the deputy station head and got other people to address him as that, and because for his own selfishness, he gathered several of the delivery hands and bodyguards to pressure me to step down and raise their pay. Don’t you think that short-sighted people like this who only knows how to care for the people in his circle are underserving of leadership positions?”
Fourth master Wen’s face changed slightly but he continued to speak in an unaffected tone, “Mm, if this is so, I shall look for Zhang Xiaohu later on and give him a good talk. The reason for appointing him as your deputy is to assist you so that the job will go on smoothly, such mutinous behaviour is definitely not acceptable.”
Station head Luo smiled obligingly and said, “Fourth master Wen is far-sighted, my thoughts are precisely for the sake of the station. Oh right, there was another problem.”
Fourth master said, “It is fine, just say it all out.”
Station head Luo recounted the matter of meeting Zhang Xiaohua in the little town that was close to the sea and his instruction to separate the accounts for Zhang Xiaohua’s living expenses, and then said, “Fourth master Wen, don’t you think that I was tight? This Zhang Xiaohu’s younger brother is not part of our station so why do we allow him to take advantage of the station’s finances? And when I went over to the accounts room yesterday, I found out that this Zhang Xiaohu threw my words up to the ninth wind and the accounts room did not receive a single cent from him, do you think he is still deserving of being my deputy? When he ignored my words to put the station’s affairs ahead of his personal interest?”
Fourth master Wen pondered and said to Yu Deyi, “Deyi-ah, go call Zhang Xiaohua over so I can interrogate him personally.”
Upon hearing this, station head Luo hurriedly raised his hands and said, “Fourth master, there is no need to raise the flag and sound the drums, I am only chatting casually with you.”
Fourth master Wen said to Yu Deyi, “Go call him over but do not explain the reason for so.”
He turned to station head Luo and said, “What you said clearly demonstrated your sincere feelings towards the station. The brothers in our escort station should help to correct each other’s mistakes, so if Zhang Xiaohu had made an error, I would definitely not punish him half-heartedly.”
Not long later, Zhang Xiaohu followed Yu Deyi as they entered fourth master Wen’s room, and he became puzzled when he saw station head Luo inside as well. He greeted everyone before sitting down on the chair closest to the door as instructed.
After Zhang Xiaohu sat down, fourth master Wen looked at him and asked, “Zhang Xiaohu, it must not be easy being the deputy of station head Luo for this job, you have done well. However, I have two matters that I need to clarify with you, you must answer them well and honestly.”
Zhang Xiaohu nodded and said, “Yes, fourth master, please ask away.”
Fourth master Wen nodded slightly and said, “Were there people in the escort team who asked for twice the compensation during the job? Did you represent them to demand for it?”
Zhang Xiaohu was stunned, he thought secretly, “Haven’t I informed you about this matter when I came back?”
When he saw station head Luo lowered his head and drank his tea, realization dawned on him and he said, “Fourth master Wen, it went like this. The job this time was much farther than usual and required us to stay outside the city over the New Year, the people in the escort team were unhappy as they all missed their families. Moreover, the prices were higher because it was a holiday, so not just some but all of the people hoped that the station would provide larger remuneration, such as twice or thrice the amount of pay during that period. There were afraid that station head Luo would reject their proposal because there was a lack of precedence so they discussed it first with me. I felt that thrice the pay might be difficult but double their pay could be considered so I discussed it with station head Luo. Station head Luo did not agree at that time and he told me to discuss it with you, but I was busy when I came back and forgot about it. If you did not raise it today, I would have really let down our brothers’ expectations.”
When fourth master Wen heard Zhang Xiaohu’s reply, he smiled and said, “It must be really difficult for the brothers in the station to travel so far so such a request is reasonable. I can understand how you all feel but this matter will still need to be discussed among the higher ups in the station. It is inappropriate for me to reply now but I should be able to provide a satisfactory answer soon.”
Station head Luo and Zhang Xiaohu nodded, and even though their responses were the same, their thoughts were completely opposite of each other!
Fourth master Wen nodded in satisfaction and hesitated for a moment before continuing to speak, “Also, Zhang Xiaohu, station head Luo raised the matter of your younger brother joining the escort team to travel. He suggested that your younger brother pay for his living expenses separately, what do you think of this idea?”
Zhang Xiaohu was surprised when he heard this, he said in a curious tone, “About this, when station head Luo requested that my younger brother pay his living expenses separately, I thought that my younger brother could live under the same room as me and save on the accommodation expenses. As for the food expenses, I have already passed it to the bookkeeper and if station head Luo thinks it is not enough and require me to pay the accommodation expenses as well, I will definitely comply with his wishes. As a member of the escort station, it is my duty to follow its rules and regulations.”
“What is this, I asked the accounts room yesterday and you did not pay them at all.” Station head Luo spoke out casually.
Fourth master Wen wrinkled his brow, the reason for his hesitation earlier was because he was reluctant to raise the matter of Zhang Xiaohua. If the matter was discussed, it would bring in Huanxi mountain villa. However, since station head Luo had raised the matter, not bringing it up would show his bias towards Zhang Xiaohu. Since Zhang Xiaohu said that he had already paid the money, he immediately felt that station head Luo was too muddleheaded and had jealous motives, and when compared to Zhang Xiaohu’s behaviour, he was like mud dragging the clouds.
Hence, he turned back to Yu Deyi and said, “Nephew Deyi, I would need to trouble you again to call over the bookkeeper from the accounts room.”
Yu Deyi smiled and said, “No problem, fourth master, I shall leave right away.”
Not long later, the bookkeeper from the accounts room followed Yu Deyi as they entered fourth master Wen’s room. The bookkeeper immediately felt strange when he saw the people in the room, he stood at a side after greeting them and asked, “May I know why fourth master had called for me?”
Fourth master Wen smiled and said, “There is a matter I need you to verify, you only need to tell the truth without trying to shield either party.”
Upon hearing this, the bookkeeper glances curiously at station head Luo and Zhang Xiaohua before nodding in understanding.
Fourth master Wen asked, “Zhang Xiaohu said that he had already paid his younger brother’s living expenses to you, is this true?”
The bookkeeper immediately understood the situation and replied, “Yes, it is true.”
Station head Luo almost stood up anxiously but fourth master saw his response and raised his hand to stop him, he continued to ask, “So why it is not reflected in the accounts side?”
The bookkeeper smiled as he explained, “It’s like this, fourth master. Zhang Xiaohua gave me the money early in the morning on the day of his return, but I had many urgent personal businesses to settle first so I asked for a few days leave and only returned back to the station today. The money has already been entered into the accounts, fourth master can verify this personally if he wishes.”
Station head Luo’s face turned into the colour of dirt when he heard this, he muttered under his breath, “Just accept your guilt willingly if you have personal matters, why couldn’t you enter the amount into the books before returning?”
Fourth master Wen overheard this, he wrinkled his brows and asked, “Then it is your fault, why couldn’t you enter the amount into the books before taking leave?”
The bookkeeper immediately defended his innocence, he said, “Fourth master, it is not that I did not want to do the accounts properly. I have been meticulous in calculating the expenses and have submitted them before returning home. However, Zhang Xiaohu’s younger brother is only a child and his expenses did not amount to much, the total sum did not exceed a silver. But since the sum had to be settled, I naturally could not compromise on Zhang Xiaohu’s interests so I added the figures carefully this morning and entered them into the books just not long ago. Hence, there is still ten coppers that I have yet to return to Zhang Xiaohu.”
After finishing his sentence, he took out a few coins from his breast and passed it to Zhang Xiaohu, and the latter extended his hand to receive it without hesitation.
Fourth master Wen’s face changed colour when he heard this, and just as he was about to speak, the sounds of footsteps appeared from outside his door. When fourth master Wen peered through the door, he saw Huanxi mountain villa’s Qiu Tong who had arrived.
Fourth master Wen hurriedly stood up and went over to welcome the visitor, he greeted, “Lady Qiu Tong, why did you come over to the station today? Such a rare visit indeed.”
Qiu Tong smiled and said, “Fourth master Wen is too courteous, I am only a maid from Huanxi mountain villa and do not deserve such an honour.”
Fourth master Wen smiled and said, “Lady Qiu Tong is too modest, who doesn’t know that Qiu Tong’s words cannot be dragged by nine horses in Huanxi mountain villa, and apart from the villa master, everyone needs to listen to your instructions?”
Qiu Tong replied, “This is due to the villa master’s influence, there is no other meaning to it.”
Fourth master Wen invited Qiu Tong into the room.
After Qiu Tong entered the room, she wrinkled her brows upon seeing the people inside and asked, “Is fourth master Wen busy tight now? Shall I come back a while later?”
Fourth master Wen smiled obligingly and said, “It’s no problem, the matter is already settled. Lady Qui Tong can sit down first while I order them to leave.”
Upon hearing this, Qiu Tong did not hesitate and looked at the surrounding people. Her eyes brightened when she saw Zhang Xiaohu and sat down beside him.
When fourth master Wen saw that Qiu Tong had seated, he said to everyone else, “I have clarified my doubts about this living expenses issue. I have another matter here so you all can go back first and wait for my further instructions later.”
Everyone stood up upon hearing his instructions.
However, they heard Qiu Tong saying, “Please do not leave.”