Chapter 442 - The Flatterer
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Jing Rong took out the fifty three taels that were supposed to belong to Wei Yi and handed it to Lang Po, without forgetting to remind Lang Po, “Remember, you owe this Prince fifty three taels.”
“This humble one understands.” He received the fifty three taels with his heart bleeding, and stuffed the silver into Wei Yi’s arms. He moved his gaze away from the silver, not wanting to look at them.
Wei Yi went up to the carriage joyfully as he received the silver. He seemed to have forgotten about the heat he was complaining about and had no idea that Lang Po was close to crying.
They continued their journey after that interlude.
They arrived at Anfu County when it was almost seven in the evening. Anfu was neither large nor small. The design of the building resembled the architecture in Jiangnan Town. Other than the three major streets, the others were small roads and alleys that messily intersected with one another. The county did not look prosperous, but it could not be considered as a poor rural region either. It was placed beside the mountain with access to rivers, a very peaceful place. The moment the carriage entered the city of the county, it attracted some attention.
Even though Anfu was situated along the state highway, it was not the only way to the Capital. It could even be considered one of the furthest deviations from the Capital route, which would add a full day to the journey. Hence, many businessmen or travellers would avoid Anfu and opt for shortcuts on smaller roads to save time before they returned to the state highway again. However, Jing Rong worried that the smaller roads would be too bumpy for the comfort of Ji Yunshu and Aunty Xie, so he ordered his subordinates to follow the state highway and to tolerate the delay.
The people of Anfu were naturally curious about the long procession of carriages entering the city. Fortunately, they were not particularly conspicuous as it was late at night.
When they arrived at the inn, Jing Rong ordered his people to bring the carriages and horses to the backyard. Not long after that, Zhao Huai and company also entered the inn. The two groups did not interact with each other but acted like strangers. They all took a seat on the first floor and had their meals, minding their own businesses. Jing Rong, Ji Yunshu and Wei Yi were sharing a table, while Aunty Xie was having her meal in her room. Mo Ruo was sitting alone on the side with his wine.
After a few cups of wine, Mo Ruo resumed speaking nonsense. “What a pity. Two people who have feelings to each other separated by the bridge of magpies.” Obviously, the bridge of magpies referred to Wei Yi.
Hearing to his words, Jing Rong picked up a chopstick and threw it at Mo Ruo. However, Mo Ruo caught it. “Thank you. I needed another chopstick to make a pair.”
Jing Rong did not want to argue with him further. He picked up some vegetables and put it in Ji Yunshu’s bowl. “Eat more.”
“Yes.” Ji Yunshu accepted his offer.
Wei Yi saw this as he was eating. He immediately imitated Jing Rong and put a piece of meat into Ji Yunshu’s bowl. “Shu’er likes to eat meat.” He then picked up the piece of vegetable from her bowl. “Shu’er is not eating your vegetables.” How willful and proud! It felt like déjà vu. Ji Yunshu felt awkward and Jing Rong was speechless. Although his face turned sour, he could only swallow his frustration.
At this moment, Lang Po walked to Jing Rong’s side and whispered something. Jing Rong’s face turned solemn. He contemplated for a short moment before he left the inn without saying anything. Outside the inn stood a yamen runner. He cupped his hands and bowed the moment he saw Jing Rong. He then said in a low voice, “Prince, Lord Liu wants to invite Prince to the yamen.”
“That old fox has gotten the news so quickly.”
“Lord said that he will keep waiting until he meets the Prince.”
In reply, Lang Po said, “Your Lord is powerful indeed! He dares to order our Prince to visit the yamen? If he really intends to meet the Prince, why does he not come over personally?”
“This…” The yamen runner did not know how to reply.
Jing Rong thought for a while, took a glance at the inn and ordered Lang Po, “Instruct the others to look after Teacher Ji properly. This Prince will go to the yamen.”
“This humble one will follow.”
“There’s no need for that. Ziran will be with me.”
“Yes.” Lang Po replied.
Jing Rong and Shi Ziran followed the yamen runner to the yamen.
Liu Zhiliang had been waiting outside the yamen to welcome Jing Rong. The moment he saw Jing Rong, he lifted his gown and knelt on the ground. “This humble official welcomes Prince Rong. Hope that the Prince will forgive this humble one for not welcoming the Prince at the front gate of the city.”
Looking at him, Jing Rong said coldly, “Liu Zhiliang, quit acting in front of this Prince. Get up now so that you don’t fracture your legs.”
Liu Zhiliang stood up, head still lowered deferrentially. He did not dare to look straight into Jing Rong's face. Instead, he said with his lowered head, “Prince, this humble official has prepared a feast in the backyard, hoping that Prince will enjoy it.”
Jing Rong’s gaze darkened as he sneered, “That’s not necessary.”
“Of course it’s necessary. If not for the Prince, this humble official would not have the position of county magistrate in Anfu. This humble one always remembered Prince’s kindness and has wanted repaying the favour if this humble one met the Prince again. Now that this humble one finally has the chance to meet Prince again, this humble one has to provide the best hospitality.” Simpering and fawning!
Jing Rong sized Liu Zhiliang up as if he was able to read Liu Zhiliang’s mind. “Liu Zhiliang, who informed you about this Prince’s arrival at Anfu?”
Liu Zhiliang bowed again and said with a smile, “The news about the Prince travelling to Yufu County to investigate the case of the missing relief silver has spread. The Prince is a noble and naturally will not take the shortcuts like the others but will definitely pass by Anfu. For the past few days, this humble official has been getting ready to welcome the Prince.” Shi Ziran spoke up from the side. “Lord Liu, you are not telling the truth. If you had been ready to welcome the Prince, why did you not welcome us at the city gates? Yet you sent your subordinate to invite our Prince to your county yamen? How arrogant.”
“Prince, please don’t misunderstand.” Liu Zhiliang bent his back lower as he explained succinctly, “This humble one thought that the Prince would have sent a notice before arriving at Anfu. However, as the day drew closer, this humble official did not receive any notification. Therefore, this humble one assumed that the Prince intended to arrive discreetly so this humble one decided not to welcome Prince at the city gates. This humble official wanted to invite the Prince over personally, but thought that the action might expose the Prince’s identity. So this humble official had be discourteous and send my subordinates over with the invitation; we simply did not want to alert the others and upset the Prince.”
Liu Zhiliang was on par with the assistant senior official of the Supreme Court. They were both experts in flattery. Moreover, all his words hit the right spots and made it inappropriate for Jing Rong to question him further.
Therefore… “Fine, Liu Zhiliang, this Prince will not stay longer. The reason I came here is not for the feast you prepared, but to check in and see if you’re comfortable being the outlaw king.” Jing Rong said.
Outlaw king? Liu Zhiliang gave a perplexed look and said immediately, “The Prince must be joking. How can this humble official be an outlaw king? This humble one is nothing but a grass worm in front of the Prince and is ready to please the Prince at anytime.”
“Such a slick tongue.”
Liu Zhiliang was terrified by Jing Rong’s words.
“Anfu County has been peaceful for the past few years. It seems you have done your job as magistrate well. This Prince understands. Hence, I will not stay any longer. You will keep doing your job and when this Prince returns to the Capital, I’ll bring up your name at the Ministry of Personnel.”
“Thank you, Prince.” He asked, “Does Prince really not want to take a seat inside?”
“That’s fine. This Prince has something else to do.”
“Then, this humble official will order someone to send you off.” Liu Zhiliang sent two of his subordinates to escort Jing Rong. Two pageboys ran in hastily as Jing Rong was just about to leave. The pageboys knelt in front of Liu Zhiliang.
“Lord, our... our Old Master Zhang is dead.”
Liu Zhiliang was shocked, “Old Master Zhang?”
The pageboys were petrified. “It was Old Master’s birthday celebration today and an opera troupe was invited to perform at the residence. Halfway through the performance, Old Master… died.”
ChouFleur Rants Corner
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