Chapter 12: Yan Wushuang
This year, spring had come particularly early.
The primroses had bloomed early, creating a sea of yellow flowers across the yard. The overwhelming flowery fragrance filled the yard, causing the entire Su Clan to be immersed in a sea of perfume.
Opening the gates, Su Chen breathed in a deep breath of air and smelled the delightful scent of flowers. He stepped out his room and arrived underneath a redbud tree in his courtyard.
Steeping a cup of tea for himself in passing, Su Chen sat down. His movements were natural and unforced and were becoming increasingly smooth and unrestrained.
Two months had passed since the end of year competition.
Because of Su Chen’s counterattack, the entire Su Clan naturally underwent a period of turmoil. Su Keji was undoubtedly angry enough to jump ten meters high. It was said that even servants were met with calamity when they crossed his path him. Also, even Su Cheng’an didn’t look at Su Chen favorably. He had instead become more resentful. His young son Su Hao was born and took up a large part of his emotions. Now, he spent a majority of his time with his fourth concubine. Tang Hongrui fought with her husband without end and the blindness of his son became a common point of their fights. His heart had also become depressed, giving birth to serious disease. His body greatly weakened and now he couldn’t even easily walk outside.
Fortunately, Clan Master Su Changche was still very appreciative of Su Chen. But the more he cherished him, the heavier the regret he felt.
It was said on the evening Su Chen won the competition, Su Changche shook his head and said, “He is a good child. But it is a pity being too exceptional is as bad as being deficient. What is hard is easily broken.”
Being too exceptional is as bad as being deficient and what is hard is easily broken. Those were the comments of the Clan Master, clearly making the Clan Master’s attitude known. Do not obstruct him. Do not support him. Let him do as he pleased.
From that day on, Su Chen felt a strange isolation.
After two months, those many matters had quietly stayed the same without change.
But not everything was bad.
There were even good things.
Su Chen’s eyes had become increasingly better.
Previously, he could only sense light. Now, he could vaguely see a few things. Although they were hard to distinguish, he was not longer as completely blind as before.
This raised Su Chen’s spirits as he began to eagerly look forward to the future even as his clan viewed him with disregard.
At this moment, just as he was sipping tea, Jianxin arrived, “Young Master, Fourth Concubine requests your presence.”
“Fourth Concubine wants to see me?” Su Chen blankly stared.
Every since this Spring Moon Brothel’s Young Lady Yan Wushuang entered the Su Residence, he had only seen her two times, both during clan ceremonies. Aside from that, Su Chen didn’t have the slightest contact with her. However, Su Chen had secretly heard rather unflattering rumors about her.
It was said that this woman was both wise and intelligent. Not longer after she entered the clan, she had grasped the business of Jade Band Lane in her hands.
Jade Band Lane was Northface City’s busiest street. The Su Clan had owned four stores here, with Su Cheng’an as the manager. Now, these four stores were being run by Yan Wushuang. Supposedly, Tang Hongrui had also had a huge argument with Su Cheng’an over this matter, but in the end nothing came of it. Most aggravatingly, those four stores actually flourished under Yan Wushuang’s care without any hiccups or accidents at all. They were even able to settle a few huge deals, forcing the gossipers to keep mum.
It was unsurprising that this Fourth Concubine received such pampering. She was beautiful, could do business, was very persuasive, and even bore a son.
However, Fourth Concubine’s style of doing business did not endear her to anyone. Supposedly not long before, she had sacked the Green Jade Store’s shopkeeper and three elderly assistants simply because they were not respectful to her. These were people that had worked for the Su Clan for twenty years, and yet if she fired them they were fired!
Now that Fourth Concubine was suddenly inviting him over, even Su Chen could not understand why.
Thinking for a moment, he finally nodded and said, “Got it. I’m heading over now.”
After changing into new clothes and tidying himself up, Su Chen headed for the Fourth Concubine’s Blue Fragrance Pavilion, with Jianxin leading the way.
At that moment, Yan Wushuang was sitting in the Blue Fragrance Pavilion, holding a cup in her hand. A pair of servants, one male, the other female, were kneeling next to her, trembling with trepidation.
Yan Wushuang’s face was round like a goose egg1, and her eyebrows were long and sleek. While she certainly was beautiful in appearance, her gaze was menacing.
Just as Su Chen arrived, he heard Yan Wushuang use the lid of her cup to fling her tea to the side and calmly say, “Normally, I would not interfere with your mutual relationship. But if I were to allow you to indulge yourself so unrestrainedly, would this palace still care for rules? If all of the people here were to behave as they wanted to, how would I have any authority? Isn’t that right, Fourth Young Master?”
Yan Wushuang carelessly spoke this last sentence upon seeing Su Chen enter.
Su Chen lowered his head and answered, “How Aunt Concubine deals with her servants is her business. Su Chen has no right to interfere.”
Yan Wushuang spoke, her voice unrestrained, “No matter, you can just speak a few words without care. If I think that they have some merit, then perhaps I will consider your suggestion.”
Thinking for a moment, Su Chen replied, “Although the clan has many rules, there are no written rules forbidding secret relationships among servants. The main reason for this is because these occurrences happen too often and are difficult to address. If one ignores the matter, it is difficult to prevent people from becoming indulgent and then pandemonium will reign. On the other hand, if the restrictions are too strict, it is impossible to not break up relationships and beat the offenders with wooden poles. The way I see it, it will be easiest if one only takes care of what is considered part of the palace and ignores what is not.”
“Only take care of what is considered part of the palace and ignore what is not?” Yan Wushuang repeated, then asked, “What is considered part of the palace, and what is not?”
“Naturally, responsibilities are part of the palace, while love affairs are not.” Su Chen replied, “The way that I see it, if their feelings for each other are truly strong, there is no need to break them apart. Instead, have one of them leave the palace. That way, the matter of having an illicit relationship in the palace will not be a problem, and it will also serve as a warning for future generations. Everything will naturally take care of itself in due time; there’s no need to go so far as to break up a marriage predestined by fate.”
The two people kneeling both gratefully watched Su Chen. It was already the best possible ending for them if this matter was dealt with in this way.
Yan Wushuang was stunned for a moment, but her sleek eyebrows slowly revealed a menacing intent, “What you say does have reason, but the punishment really is too light. People will still be just as indulgent; I only fear that after this even more people will imitate these two. Then, there will be more people who say that I do not run my household strictly enough. I think that it is still appropriate to give each of them forty beatings, chase them both out and call it even.”
Su Chen was shocked, “Aunt, isn’t this punishment too severe?”
If both people were chased away and were temporarily unable to find work, they would have no income. Tacking on another forty beatings would mean that most likely they would be unable to lie down for at least half a month. Their lives would be even more difficult.
Yan Wushuang glanced at Su Chen before suddenly laughing, “Since Fourth Young Master personally says so, forget it. I’ll give you some face and just punish them with twenty beatings. Take Zhi Li and Yan Yue out and beat them!”
Su Chen knew that by beating them as well as getting rid of them, she was both giving Su Chen face as well as manifesting her own fearsomeness. As expected, she truly did have quite a few tactics; however, Su Chen became even more disgusted with her.
Inside the room.
Yan Wushuang, who had just finished dealing with those two people, calmly drank from her cup of tea before speaking, “I have long heard of Fourth Young Master being a dragon among men. I have witnessed your youth and stunning talent firsthand today. You truly are an elegant young gentleman, but what a pity that your methods for taking care of business are too soft and you are not strict enough towards your underlings. But this is also unsurprising, since Fourth Young Master is walking on the path of dragons and tigers and is only focused on strengthening himself. How could he care for the trifling matter of managing others?”
Su Chen calmly replied, “Aunt praises me too much; I, Su Chen, am blind. How could there be any path of dragons and tigers for me to walk? Su Chen just does not want to give up so carelessly.”
“Good, a ‘does not want to give up so carelessly’,” Yan Wushuang laughed, clapping her hands, but no trace of a smile appeared on her face. She then said, “It seems like it will be impossible then to ask Fourth Young Master to give up a little.”
Su Chen’s eyebrows slightly tightened, “I wonder exactly what Aunt wants to gain from me?”
Yan Wushuang replied, “Let’s make this clear with words. It’s not that I want to gain something from you; I am also doing this for the benefit of the Su Clan’s businesses. You must know that in the main branch, Madame Tang 2 is ill and your eyes make it difficult for you to do things. Although Fourth Young Master displayed great might and defeated Second Young Master just two months ago, can this grant Fourth Young Master keen eyes and sharp ears? Can this allow Eldest Young Master to clearly discern whether people are loyal or traitorous? Can this allow Fourth Young Master to manage the businesses without making any errors? Some things require people with sight, in the end, to accomplish them.”
Su Chen stared blankly for a moment before finally realizing the truth, “So Fourth Concubine fancies my mother’s few businesses.”
Yan Wushuang corrected, “They are all the Su Clan’s; it’s just that Madame Tang is currently managing them. But now that Madame Tang’s health is deteriorating and Fourth Young Master is determined to walk on the path of the powerful, what need is there to hold on to these businesses? If you release them and allow me, a lowly person, to work for the clan, you and your mother can reap the benefits behind the scenes, collecting the bonuses. Wouldn’t your lives be more free and joyful?”
Su Chen asked, “Why hasn’t Fourth Concubine talked to my mother about this matter?”
“We’ve talked already; Madame Tang’s nature is stubborn and won’t listen to anyone. However, you were always her pride. If you are willing to let go of them, Madame Tang will most likely respect your suggestions.”
Su Chen understood; it seemed that Yan Wushuang had already talked with Tang Hongrui about it, but was soundly refuted by Tang Hongrui. In the end, she had come to find him.
In truth, if it were Su Chen who proposed this to his mother, Tang Hongrui may have actually agreed to it.
One thing that Yan Wushuang said was absolutely correct – that is, Tang Hongrui’s physical condition was not suitable for managing the businesses. Su Chen was also not fit to take over. Thus, he had long thought of giving it up to someone else.
However, giving it up was one matter. Who it was being given to was another matter entirely.
Yan Wushuang, as the Fourth Concubine, was the only one receiving pampering. Tang Hongrui could never get used to seeing it. No matter who the businesses would be given to, they would not be given to her.
Who knew that this woman’s intentions were even more vicious? If the other party wouldn’t give it to her, she would come take it for herself. She actually went to find him to talk about this matter.
Did she really think he was this easy to bully?
Su Chen’s eyes slightly narrowed.
Yan Wushuang leisurely tossed away her tea leaves, her attitude as if she had done enough, and said, “After Fourth Young Master defeated Second Young Master, although you achieved what you desired, you also offended Second Elder along with a group of people who supported him. In this period of time, Fourth Young Master’s days most likely have been pretty lonely, right?”
“What is Aunt trying to say?”
“Nothing much; all I want to say is that humans still need to have a few friends. Otherwise, if one has too many enemies, who knows when one will be shot by an arrow from the darkness.”
“Aunt’s meaning is that I should bow to the demands of others just to make a few more friends? I feel that these kinds of friends are not worth making.”
Yan Wushuang’s expression suddenly changed.
Her tone suddenly became heavy, “Do you know what you are saying?”
Su Chen gently laughed, “What I am saying is that my Second Uncle spent three years trying to make me bow my head and failed as the Second Elder of the main branch of my Su Clan. What he could not accomplish, a former whore of the Spring Moon Brothel actually wants to do. Aren’t you indulging in your fantasies a little too much?”
1. A face shaped like a goose egg is a sign of beauty in Chinese culture due to its smooth, rounded shape (even if it sounds funny)
2. The Tang is not explicitly written here but was added in for clarity.