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Chapter 22 – The Encounter of an Old Acquaintance

The Encounter of an Old Acquaintance

Besides the handsome man, someone hesitated and said, “Master, isn’t that Lady Liu? Do you want me to call her back?”

 

The thin man looked young, but his brows had been engraved with a light trace of melancholy. His thin lips trembled for a while and said: “Since she hasn’t come back to me, she’s probably tired of her previous way of living. Why should I drag her to live such a life of intrigue? You can help me just by secretly inquiring where she lives now and how she lives…”

 

The man’s servant stepped out of the shop and asked someone to follow Lady Liu secretly. But don’t disturb her. Just know where she lives.

 

After telling the servant, his eyes fell on the white and shining jade chessboard. After looking at it for a while, he said to the shopkeeper: “I’ll put this chessboard here. If the girl comes again next time, sell it to her at a low price…”

 

The shopkeeper was puzzled and said: “Sir, you have already paid for this jade chessboard. If you want to give it to the girl, just give it to her directly. Selling it at a low price… How do I fix a price for it?”

 

The handsome man’s face showed a meaningful wry smile and said, “Although she seems to like this jade chessboard, I’m afraid she wouldn’t want it if she knew it’s from me…”

 

The shopkeeper is old and has experienced many trials and hardships before. Looking at this scene, he understands that it is about some old love drama of the young people weeping and sobbing. Thus, he sensibly did not ask any more questions.

 

The young man took out a half-used orchid purse from his arms and gently rubbed the patterns on it with his fingers. The chic style is the same as the purse hung on Cui Xingzhou.

 

He slowly held his purse to his mouth, smelled the faint fragrance of orchids inside, and closed his eyes painfully, “Miantang, are you blaming me in your heart that’s why you wouldn’t come and meet me?”

 

But Miantang didn’t know that someone was calling her name in pain.

 

Because of the pain in her body, when she came out of the jade shop, she was so tired that she took Servant Li and the others back to the inn to have a rest first.

 

Servant Li asked for a pot of hot water in the kitchen and gave Miantang a stupe to cover her injured hands and feet.

 

Miantang likes this moment most. She just rolls up her trousers and lies down on the bed honestly for stuping. When the warm towel was put on, she comfortably closed her big eyes, and her eyelashes trembled.

 

But she had something in mind, so she asked in worried, “When will my husband come? If he comes late and the Gala Market is over, he will come to the State of Qing for nothing!”

 

Servant Li was used to Miantang’s worrying temperament. She rinse the towel in the clean water and said: “Master said that he could come over in the next two days, so you can rest assured to play. He asked Mo Ru and gave some benefits to the steward of the Gala. If you watch Bangzi Opera, you will have a seat in the front row, and there will be fragrant tea and fruit to eat.”

 

Miantang was glad to hear this, but she is worried that the lecherous Commander Shi would go to a Gala Market as well. If she showed up, she would create trouble for her husband again.

 

But Servant Li didn’t care much and said, “I heard that the Commander-in-Cheif Shi is going to have a banquet with Prince Huaiyang in the restaurant tomorrow. All the people who can go are the noble family members of the two mansions. How will he have the leisure time to wander around the street? What’s more, as a Commander-in-Cheif, he won’t do things as ridiculous as you think. Your husband entrusted a representative to tell us that you can rest assured to enjoy it tomorrow.”

 

Miantang was relieved to hear what Servant Li said. Her husband’s attentive arrangements were very thoughtful and considerate. He is so busy with his chess lesson but he still has to worry about her schedule… It makes people feel infinite joy.

 

In addition to being happy, Miantang thought of the chessboard that she could not afford for the time being, and felt a little disappointed. She doesn’t know when she can earn enough money to buy the chess board…

 

So in the early morning of the next day, Miantang finished her grooming and went out dressed up. She especially go the long way around to the jade shop and wanted to take a look at the chessboard again.

 

But unexpectedly, as soon as she stood on the shelf where the chessboard was placed, the shopkeeper came to greet her with a happy face: “Madam, you came yesterday, didn’t you?”

 

Liu Miantang nodded with a smile and listened to the shopkeeper: “I see that you really like this chessboard… What a coincidence! The owner of this chessboard has high standards and dislikes that the chess board is not exquisite and flawed, so he would rather give up the money instead. I’m worried about if there will be a next customer for it. If you don’t dislike it, can I sell you at a low price?”

 

Miantang listened to his words and looked at the chessboard in wonder, but she didn’t find any improper defects. It was only yesterday that the shopkeeper said that the price was more than 100 Silver Money. Even if he gave a half-price discount, she still couldn’t afford it!

 

But she didn’t give up and asked, “What’s the low price?”

 

The shopkeeper looked into her eyes and said tentatively, “Twenty Silver Money?”

 

But as soon as he finished, Miantang turned around and wanted to leave. The shopkeeper quickly changed his mind and said, “Five Silver Money! If you can afford Five Silver Money, I will sell it to you!”

 

Miantang turned around, her eyes were shining, smiled at him, stretched out three fingers, and said, “Three Silver Money, I will not buy if it’s more than that!”

 

……

 

When Miantang came out of the jade shop contentedly with Servant Li and a neatly wrapped chessboard, She sighed with emotion: “It’s said that the gold, silver, and jade shop is very profitable. I didn’t believe it at first, but now I can see why. The chessboard, which is worth Three Silver Money, can sell for a Hundred Silver Money! It must not be a good jade material, but I don’t know what means it has to be done so thoroughly! I think the customer who came to reserve also come to realize in the end, that the customer rather not want his deposit back and break the contract. How much has he been cheated by this unscrupulous merchant?”

 

Miantang doesn’t care whether the jade material is true or not. Anyway, she just wants it because the appearance looks good. Her husband is not a Prince or Marquis, and naturally, he will not pay attention to whether it’s real jade or a fake jade.

 

But Servant Li was nurtured in the wealth of the Prince’s Residence. Naturally, she can tell at a glance that the chessboard is a fine Lanolin Jade.

 

It is obviously that the chessboard is worth a Hundred Silver Money, but the shopkeeper would rather sell it to Miantang at a low price. What is the fact hidden behind it?

 

Recalling coming out of the jade shop yesterday, the secret sentry found that two men in green were following them all the way. Servant Li predicted that if the beautiful lady had not provoked some lascivious men, it would be an old acquaintance of Lady Liu!

 

Those who can be so generous extravagance but make a roundabout to give it out, other than Lu Wen, there is no one else she can think of!

 

Thinking of this, she dared not delay. She just gives a motioned signal to the secret sentry to hurry to deliver the message to The Prince.

 

At this time, Prince Huaiyang was entertaining Shi Yikuan in the largest restaurant in the State of Qing.

 

Shi Yikuan is a man fishing for fame. He is very proud to learn from Mr. Qingzhu, a famous calligrapher and painter. This year is the 15th anniversary of his apprenticeship. He should remind the world of his identity as the successor of painting and calligraphy. So he invited all the famous painters and calligraphers in the South of the Yangtze River to gather together to learn from each other by exchanging views.

 

However, what surprised him was that Prince Huaiyang, who had always been busy with affairs, had condescended to join in and make jokes with him.

 

It must be his recent act of offering amnesty and enlistment to rebels that made The Prince uncomfortable.

 

Making Prince Huaiyang uncomfortable is to make The Emperor happy. Shi Yikuan felt that he had made a brilliant move in this chess game, and his smile at Prince Huaiyang became more eagerly attentive.

 

“Prince Huaiyang, your cursive script is well-known all over the world. You should scatter your ink at the Calligraphy and Painting Tea Party this time so that your colleagues can have the opportunity to feast their eyes!”

 

After saying this, the accompanying officials nodded constantly.

 

Cui Xingzhou, however, had an indistinct smile on his lips and just raised the glass in his hand.

 

Although the proper etiquette was maintained, it was not intimate, which made the wine bureau a little cold and awkward.

 

Fortunately, all of them here are not here to have fun. Each of them has its plot in mind. When no one speaks, all of them can keep their equanimity and wait for the others to break the ice.

 

Shi Yikuan, as the host, could not keep silent, so after a moment of silence in the wine hall, he moved to Zhao Quan, the Marquis Zhennan beside Cui Xingzhou, and said, “Are there any new paintings and calligraphy Marquis Zhennan has brought this time?”

 

Zhao Quan is also well-known for his bole. He always brings something new to such gatherings.

 

Zhao Quan was inspired by Shi Yikuan’s question.

 

Mr. Chen’s painting skills are superb. He really shouldn’t be buried. Therefore, even if he has been reduced to a painter in a porcelain shop, he should be saved.

 

Moreover, he knew that Lady Liu also wanted to do everything possible to make the shop prosperous. He was happy to give her a helping hand.

 

So when Shi Yikuan asked, he hurriedly said: “I want to recommend a wonderful man to you this time. He is a wonderful and most extraordinary painter. But now he is dormant in a porcelain shop. After this Calligraphy and Painting Tea Party, he can be expected to surprise the people with his first success. He doesn’t draw many color plates himself. Thus, I think the price will certainly go up in the future. Oh! By the way, the porcelain shop is called the “Jade Porcelain Workshop”. If you guys have a good eye for talent, you guys should buy it early…”

 

Those who are familiar with Zhao Quan’s temperament couldn’t help joking: “Could it be that the Marquis has made a stake in that porcelain shop? You have always been upright and free from worldly affairs. Why are you so hard-working now?”

 

Zhao Quan stared and give a glance at Cui Jiu, who was beside him, and said, “I want to enter, but it’s a pity that someone stopped me…”

 

After a while of chatting and laughing, they finally got to the point. Someone mentioned the recruitment of bandits in Yangshan mountain and complimented Shi Yikuan for turning war into friendship.

 

Cui Xingzhou listened quietly, still without saying anything.

 

The world knows that he is the main war faction, and Shi Yikuan is now acting with the intention of The Emperor. As long as the anti-bandit insurgency subsides, there is no need to station troops in the State of Zhen anymore. The Emperor has been planning for a long time to weaken the power of The Princes with different surnames.

 

If Cui Xingzhou doesn’t agree with the recruitment in front of others, he will become the person who has ulterior motives, so he just smiles and doesn’t say anything, but listens to how far Shi Yikuan has made contact with the anti-bandits.

 

According to what they said, the anti-bandits admired Commander Shi’s generosity and took the initiative to deliver a letter of surrender and incline the intention of being willing to accept the offering of amnesty and enlistment to rebels. In fact, Lu Wen was born into a good family and was a talented person. Besides being willing to lead his people to surrender, he was also willing to marry one of the daughters of Commander Shi’s concubine.

 

The Emperor had also left a message with Commander Shi earlier, in order to set a model for all the anti-thieves in the world who are willing to abandon their depraved way of life and return to the path of virtue. The Emperor will greatly praise Lu Wen for his surrender.

 

When the time comes, the anti-bandits will change into the official robe, added with the title of official, and a beautiful wife in his arms. It’s the happiest thing in the world!

 

Zhao Quan was the first to change his face when he heard that Lu Wen admired the daughter of Commander Shi.

 

He didn’t expect that Lady Liu’s previous man is so fickle and lack righteousness! First, Liu Miantang, who was badly hurt, was left alone. Now, he wants to marry an official’s daughter and become an official! If Lady Liu had recovered her memory, He wonder if she would be sad because of the old acquaintance’s fickleness.

 

But now that he thinks of it again, Lady Liu will not have any relationship with the bandits anymore. After all, she was from a good family and was not willing to follow Lu Wen!

 

He must make good compensation for Miantang’s suffering in the future, and never make her cry again…

 

Cui Xingzhou feels that Lu Wen’s actions are within his expectation. Liu Miantang was indeed a sacrifice that was deliberately abandoned by the bandit Lu Wen. If it is still unable to attract Lu Wen to show up, she will be useless. The house on North Street can be almost removed.

 

For a while, the two friends were silent with their thoughts.

 

At this time, Cui Xingzhou’s secret sentry entered the wine hall and whispered behind him.

 

Cui Xingzhou listened quietly, but his eyes lit up.

 

That fish… Finally got hooked! And he made an extraordinary move. He even gave a Hundred Silver Money worth of chessboard to Liu Miantang for nothing.

 

If it is Lu Wen, it can be seen that he still has lingering feelings for the beautiful Miantang and his love for her was not completely cut off yet. This move seems to be useful.

 

Thinking of this, he was no longer willing to drink with the officials in the hall. He just went off on the excuse that he was too drunk.

 

Instead of socializing with these bureaucrats in the restaurant, he’d better go to the Gala Market and follow Lady Liu for a walk to see if the rebel can hold himself and resist showing himself out.

 

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