Ch. 29: Taking Advantage of Connections to Bully People is Too Vile

TL’ed by snowflake_obsidian

Edited by Xia

[1] Having the general take advantage of his position to pressure the person mentioned in the paragraph would be excessive.

[2] Bluestone in this context is a general term for various building materials which include limestone, granite, and slate.

Ch 29 – Taking Advantage of Connections to Bully People is Too Vile

Later, Su Tang watched Xuan Zi go to sleep.  She tiptoed away and soon afterwards caught sight of Shao Yao standing at the doorway.

“Shao furen, there’s someone called Xiao Mo looking for you. It seems to be an urgent matter.”

Su Tang’s face was completely puzzled. Xiao Mo was usually unruffled so if Shao Yao could make out that there was an urgent matter, then there certainly was a big urgent matter! Could it be that there was trouble with the shop? But didn’t they already pay the down payment?

Uncertain, Su Tang hastened her pace.

Xiao Mo was still wearing the garments which had been washed to the point of being discolored. His face showed both reassurance and shame upon seeing Su Tang appear. “Miss, I’ve caused you trouble!”

Su Tang frowned. “What happened?”

“That shop owner leased the store to someone else!” Xiao Mo said.

“Didn’t we already pay the deposit?”

“It didn’t matter to him. When we talked, he merely pushed the money at me to make me leave and said that he already rented it to another person!” Xiao Mo’s face was completely irate, and on the other hand said “Miss, I mishandled things. I found this store (location) and now the bakery opening will be delayed!”

Su Tang gritted her teeth and said, “Let’s go! I want to take a look!”

How could it be leased to somebody else? The document in her possession was signed by both parties!

Su Tang thought of something but felt embarrassed again….how would she get out? The small door had already been blocked, sneaking out was now an impossibility….thinking for a bit, she had an idea!

Su Tang had Shao Yao order someone to prepare a carriage and also had Xi Que secretly take out the washed suit of men’s clothes. Afterwards Su Tang just openly and aboveboard strutted out of the manor’s main door!

She didn’t believe that anyone would dare block her! As to what lao taitai and cold noodles would say after finding out, hey, she’ll wait until he asks!

The carriage driver was a person who belonged to the general’s manor who still was unfamiliar. Su Tang avoided being noticed and soon afterwards had him stop on Treasure, a main street.  She exited the carriage. After that she looked for someplace to switch into gentlemen’s clothing. On the road once again, she walked forward towards the shop on the east main street to the 3-forked crossroads.

This shop was empty two days ago. In a wink, the interior had things spread all over, as well as a wooden sign hung on the door lintel…written on it….Rong Ji Bakery!

Unexpectedly, these people are in the same trade!

Xiao Mo had sharp eyes which swept the interior. Everybody inside was preoccupied with decorating and moving things. He pointed at something and said, “Miss, look.  Boss Mu is in there!”

Calm and collected, Su Tang slowly walked inside.  Upon seeing that round faced proprietor with small eyes and gold teeth, she coldly said, “Proprietor Mu, what is this?”

Boss Mu who was in the midst of hailing a person, suddenly heard a noise behind him. Startled, he jolted and turned around to initially catch sight of Xiao Mo.  He once again pulled out a tormented facial expression and said, “Why are you back again?  Didn’t I give all the silver back to you. I’m not leasing to you, am renting out to someone else!”

Su Tang saw that it appeared he had no choice. She knit her brow and said, “Proprietor Mu, everyone here engages in business and ought to understand established practices. You clearly first drew up the documents with us. Also, I already paid the down payment. How could you go back on your word?”

Boss Mu looked all around and said in a small voice, “I can’t help it. Sometime later a person was willing to give 100 liang more….”

Su Tang interrupted. “Respected merchants depend on their integrity. Proprietor Mu, don’t tell me that your integrity is worth 100 liang! Moreover, could it be that proprietor Mu is not afraid that I’ll notify the public officials using the documents in my possession! This is my case!”

At this time a 23-year-old finely clothed man walked out from the side. He sneered upon seeing sharp tongued Su Tang, and said in a high voice, “Notify public officials? Ah, I’m telling you, I have friends in high places. The public officials cannot oppose my backers! Who do you think you are! What place are you talking about! I’ve already leased this store. Hurry up and beat it. Don’t meddle in my affairs!”

Xiao Mo looked at the finely clothed man who was about to shove Su Tang and hurriedly stepped forward to block him.

Su Tang took a half step back to put some distance between herself and this man.  His entire person conveyed a threatening manner. She intensely wrinkled her eyebrows. Who is this person?

Proprietor Mu was looking at the person who had come. He said with a fawning expression all over his face and bowed waist, “Master Rong, you’re here.” Speaking again he faced Su Tang’s little group and said with a wave of his sleeve, “Go quickly, don’t get caught here!”

Due to proprietor Mu’s declarations, Su Tang already figured out that this party in front of her very likely was the person who snatched the store from her, the owner of Rong Ji Bakery. Looking at him again, she saw that he considered himself to be unequalled.  She couldn’t help but have some curiosity.  “I wonder who is backing shopkeeper Rong?”

“If I said who then you’d be frightened to death! My cousin is daren Xing who is in charge of the Ministry of Works.  And what’s more, my maternal uncle is daren Hong who is a division official….”

Shopkeeper Rong announced a slew of professional job titles belonging to significant officials.  Su Tang fundamentally didn’t care so soon after hearing (all this) her head was in a fog. She saw him still pleased with himself, mistakenly thinking that these all were important officials. And when he straight forwardly said, “And the most important one, daren Gong of the Board of War is my wife’s uncle.”  the corners of Su Tang’s mouth soon afterwards revealed a faint smile.

Board of War? That’s controlled by cold noodles! They say that the most important government officials all are afraid of cold noodles. So this is not a high official!

Xi Que who was on the side also heard the words, the Board of War.  Her original fury turned into whiffs of condescension. She cut in, “Snort, our family….”

“Xi Que.” Su Tang saw that Xi Que was about to speak and hastily interrupted. Su Tang once again turned to shopkeeper Rong and said, “I heard early on that the capital has crouching tigers and hidden dragons.  As expected, that reputation is well deserved! Excuse me for my lack of manners!”

Storekeeper Rong snorted, not responding in the least.  He merely assumed they were afraid.

“Since that’s the case, I will not get mixed up in this now. Shopkeeper Rong, congratulations.  I wish you a thriving and prosperous business!” Speaking, she was just about to leave and pull Xi Que along.

“Wait.” Storekeeper Rong shouted to stop her. “I heard proprietor Mu mention that you also want to open a bakery? Chuckle. A word of advice, change your profession. (Things like) selling baozi and selling deep-fried donut twists are all good.  Afterwards, all the bakeries in this capitol will belong to the Rong family! Ah, ha, ha!”

Su Tang calmly watched him for a bit. Afterwards she gave a thumbs-up and said “Right, it’s a reasonable pursuit!”

Finished speaking, she left without looking back.

Xi Que anxiously asked (after) walking out the door, “Miss, that shopkeeper Rong is really arrogant.  You’re going home to get the general to come and pressure him, right?”

Su Tang’s feet suddenly stopped. Looking at Xi Que and Xiao Mo, she saw two people with expectant faces.  She knew that they didn’t understand the implications.  After thinking for a bit, she then said, “Cold noodles is an extremely important person so your family’s young miss won’t use that maneuver [1].” She finished speaking and suddenly recalled the scene last night of cold noodles pressing her body. Her face turned hot; She couldn’t help herself.  She hastily turned around to leave.

“Eh? Miss, what do you mean? That’s it? You’re just going to forget about it?!” Xi Que couldn’t ignore it.

Su Tang responded with a question. “If not, will you meet them head on?”

“But, but that store clearly was first leased to us.  That storekeeper Rong is taking advantage of his connections to bully people! If we bring up the general’s manor, he certainly will defer and turn the shop over to us!” Xi Que pouted as she spoke.

Su Tang turned her head around and looked at Xi Que.  After that she abruptly knocked on Xi Que’s head and said with a smile, “Originally, didn’t you truly oppose me coming out.  Why are you more anxious than me?”

“Right.” Xi Que’s senses suddenly returned, after which she immediately corrected herself. “Uhm, that store was given to them. Miss, you are dutifully returning home to be the general’s furen!

Su Tang ignored her and continued to stroll forward.

After walking for a while, she once again heard Xi Que mumble to herself. “But I feel angry! Why are we now still being bullied!”

Right, why are they still being bullied! The person backing them is a strong mountain. As long as they don’t rob people, plot to seize the throne, or do other behaviors which break the law, then she can hold her head up high!

But, the issue is whether that mountain wishes to back her! Can she depend on him?!

She was just afraid, given his temper, he’d haul her to prison if he knew that she was opening a store behind his back. Don’t even talk about him bolstering her…thinking of cold noodles fierce and intimidating expression after he learned the facts, Su Tang couldn’t help but shiver in fear. Uhm, wrong. Why do I need to be afraid of him!

Ok, I’m not afraid of him! I merely don’t want to fall back on him! If this trifle matter routs me, then I’m not Su Tang!

Rather than bother cold noodles and invite trouble, it would be better to make concessions to keep the peace. Turn over that shop to them! Besides, in the event that cold noodles helps this once, then what about later?

Depending on a mountain, the mountain collapsing, relying on people, people running away, depending on yourself is still the most important thing!

Thinking of this, Su Tang became reticent. Xiao Mo spoke throughout the journey. “Don’t blame yourself. This is not on you. And besides, although that section of town is good, it’s not like we’re lacking. It’s just not workable.  The pastries themselves are critical. You saw that Rong fellow is an idiot. He used someone else’s power to bully people. They’re not up to par. Their family’s pastries certainly are not as good as ours!  We’ll look at other store locations. Let’s go. Last time you couldn’t look at other shops!

Three people once again followed along the main street looking for shops. Su Tang was unsatisfied with what she saw. If the rent wasn’t too expensive then the store front was too small. She couldn’t help but be somewhat depressed. The one-month time limit would soon arrive. Moreover, the Su family was in a complete shambles. She must make the most of things!

But sigh, Su Tang was somewhat disheartened as she watched the suns ray slowly set. It wasn’t early anymore and she couldn’t go back.  Perhaps….forget it, she still had to return home. Although it was quite urgent to open a store, it wasn’t urgent to do so in a short time. She was having a spell of bad luck.  If worse came to worse, she’d put off leaving the general’s manor.

She kept turning it over in her mind.  Several children’s playthings at the side of the road attracted and held her attention.

She boarded the carriage with a large pile of purchased things.  Soon afterwards, Su Tang heard the coachman mention a shortcut. She agreed, to return home a little earlier. It was a more straightforward route to the general’s manor, a shortcut from 4 Seasons Lane to Scholars Road.

4 Seasons Lane was a bluestone [2] road lined with stores selling antiques, curios, and paintings.  It was tree-lined on both sides and dotted with lavish flowers which hid from view what possibly were large spacious store fronts or tight little ones. The several which were faintly revealed were quaint and charming. Su Tang saw that the surroundings were all very serene.  She couldn’t help but stop herself, calming the heart.

Su Tang’s eyes suddenly brightened when the carriage turned the corner past 4 Seasons Lane.

“Stop the carriage!” Su Tang yelled.

She hastily changed clothes and also ignored the coachman’s astonishment. Su Tang jumped down from the carriage and walked toward the left.

That store compared to the other antique shops was slightly larger and connected to both 4 Seasons Lane and Scholar’s Road.  It was extremely conspicuous due to its’ position at the very corner, plus being wide with a tall door. However, the most eye-catching thing which surpassed those proper calligraphy shops….this store was for rent!

Su Tang took large strides to walk in.  She saw only a person in the middle in the room, idly drinking tea at a table, leaning forward.  She couldn’t help but blankly stare.

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