Book 5 Chapter 19 - Black Oil and Stone Rat

“Then please tell me the reason why you are unable to.”

Lin Xi gave Xu Jianling a look. He turned around towards the nearby middle-aged tea shop lady boss, saying with a smile, “Boss, may we borrow some tables for a chat?”

When she heard that Lin Xi was actually East Port Town’s new Enforcer, this lady boss and the surrounding witnesses were all already a bit stunned. However, when they heard Lin Xi say this, this lady boss who hadn’t seen many aspects of society immediately panicked a bit, only continuously nodding her head, momentarily not daring to speak a word.

When the crowd dispersed a bit, Xu Jianling’s face also became a bit better. However, after the initial shock, he instead felt a bit more mysterious hidden anger… They actually sent a youngster to sit above him, moreover this type of seemingly weak and literary brat to serve as an Enforcer who had to investigate and capture criminals. This wasn’t something just reading a few years worth of books could prepare for, nor would every criminal obediently tie their hands and wait to be captured. Do you think you can make them properly follow you back just by relying on flowery words?

“The three of you, may I trouble all of you to remain here for a bit too?”

After smiling towards that outsider youngster, Lin Xi then nodded towards the elder who carried slaughtered fish, the middle-aged woman who held a wooden basin of wet clothes and a local shopkeeper, saying this.

“We…”

When they heard Lin Xi say this, the three of them were all given a fright, their faces immediately turning pale. None of them knew why Lin Xi would point them out to stay behind.

“There’s no need to feel worry, I definitely wouldn’t make things difficult for the three of you.”

When he saw that the three were hesitating and fearful, LIn XI then quietly said this.

Only when they heard Lin Xi’s words and saw his calm expression, did the three of them gather their courage, exchange a look, and then follow Lin Xi and the others to the nearby tea shop in confusion.

Because it wasn’t convenient for carriages to enter, Peng Xiaofeng who had just shown the official document to Xu Jianling didn’t enter, only sitting on the carriage, waiting.

“Speak, what was the reason.”

Lin Xi sat down inside the herbal tea shop, giving the standing Xu Jianling, Liu Tong, the outsider youngster, tofu selling older woman, and the others a look, asking this.

“Sir, speaking over here doesn’t seem to be too convenient.” Xu Jianling took a deep breath, doing his best to reveal a smile of currying favor, saying while suppressing his voice.

“I don’t feel that there are any issues.” Lin Xi pointed outside the tea shop, and then looked at Xu Jianling, saying with a cold laugh, “Look, everyone was completely scared off just out of worry that I might ask them anything, why exactly is that? Apart from me and this brother here who came from outside, I believe it’s a reasoning everyone is aware of. Why is there a need to still hide it?”

Xu Jianling was extremely unhappy to begin with. When he heard Lin Xi say this, he immediately felt another flame light within him, saying with a sunken voice, “Since Sir has spoken like this, I will also say it clearly. Sir, does your respected self know about ‘Black Oil’ and ‘Stone Rats’?”

Lin Xi shook his head, saying, “I do not.”

“He really is just a good-for-nothing sheltered brat.” Xu Jianling sneered inwardly. He looked at Lin Xi and said, “Black Oil are precisely the laborers who carry oil and unload ships in this Breath River. Because their bodies stink of oil, and they are scorched by the sun until their bodies are dark, they are called Black Oil. These Black Oil are usually quite strong, and they have quite a bit of leisure time, so they form cliques, the ones who get into fights the easiest. Apart from doing well in the tung oil business, our Breath River has another sand and stones business. The bottom of Breath Lake is full of sand and stones, the best for paving courtyards, so digging them up is quite profitable, there are quite a few in this business as well, those who dig them up are called Stone Rats. These two groups of people are managed by four people, Second Grandpa Zhang, Fourth Grandpa Zhu, Fifth Grandpa Zhen, and Seventh Grandpa Liu.”

Lin Xi chuckled, saying, “Liu Tong is precisely someone under Fourth Grandpa Zhu, is that correct?”

Xu Jianling stared blankly for a moment, immediately afterwards nodding, “Precisely.”

“Then you can speak about the main matter at hand now. Why is it that just because he is someone under Fourth Grandpa Zhu, I cannot do anything to him?” Lin Xi gave Xu Jianling a look, and then looked at Liu Tong, seriously asking.

Xu Jianling took a deep breath. For some reason, Lin Xi’s expression has always been extremely calm, and he looked like he was quite reasonable, yet the methods he displayed and the tone in which he spoke with always made him suppress a wave of resentment in his chest that wished to erupt.

“Black Oil and Stone Rats’ numbers are many, while the manpower in our Enforcers Office is extremely lacking. Normally, on our Enforcers Office’s ten tables, seventy percent of the cases are of them causing trouble when drunk or fights with other laborers.” Xu Jianling forcefully suppressed the resentment in his mind, saying in an overcast tone, “This is still under the situation where Fourth Grandpa Zhu controls them. If the grandpas aren’t there to control them, we’ll have more work than what we can deal with even if all of our Enforcer Office members ran all around.”

Lin Xi looked at Xu Jianling, shaking his head. “What you have said isn’t sincere enough, not speaking about the true reason at all.”

Xu Jianling froze momentarily.

“Sir Lin.”

Right at this time, two more members from the Enforcer Office hurried up to the tea shop, and then nervously bowed to Lin Xi.

These two were precisely Du Weiqing and Liang Sansi.

They had just settled some disputes with renters two streets over, but suddenly heard that the new enforcer already arrived in East Port Town, and that there was even trouble on this side, so they immediately hurried over. When they saw that Lin Xi was indeed just as young as what the people along the way were saying, the two both immediately had the same thoughts as Xu Jianling did initially.

“You all are?”

Lin Xi sized up Du Weiqing and Liang Sansi.

His first impression of the forty something year old Du Weiqing was that he was experienced, worldly-wise, while the first impression of Liang Sansi was generous and honest.

“This humble one is Du Weiqing, Enforcer Office bailiff.”

“This humble one is Liang Sansi, substitute bailiff.”

“Good.” Lin Xi indicated for them to first come in and act as they wished. Then, he looked at Xu Jianling, continuing, “The reason why I said you aren’t sincere enough, not speaking of the true reasoning at all, is because the number of personnel established by various sectors in a town is determined by the provincial level’s Ministry of Appointments. It is precisely because East Port Town’s population and complexity far exceeds the surrounding towns that East Port Town’s Enforcer Office’s number of members is much higher than in other towns. If you are to say that Black Oil and Stone Rats would become impossible to handle without Fourth Grandpa Zhu and the others’ help, then that means either you yourselves are incompetent, or you are mocking Government Sector’s high officials for being blind.”

“Since you have said that even under the management of Fourth Grandpa Zhu and the others, normally, seventy percent of our cases are from their people, then this means Fourth Grandpa Zhu and the others aren’t managing them well at all.”

After a slight pause, Lin Xi calmly gave Xu Jianling whose face was already becoming more and more ugly a look, saying, “This makes it even more clear that the Enforcer Office’s implementation of law isn’t strict enough, or it is not fair enough! If one person causes trouble, we’ll catch one, could it be that we can’t catch them all? Don’t tell me that if we capture these people, Breath River will stop flowing! As long as the reward is high enough, even if the enforcer office captures a hundred people in a day, who knows how many people will fight for the now vacant jobs! The reason why others cannot enter, I fear that it is precisely because Fourth Grandpa Zhu and the others are managing things that they cannot enter, right?”

Du Weiqing and Liang Sansi still didn’t know what exactly happened before, but when they heard Lin Xi’s words just now, their foreheads and backs immediately became covered in a layer of cold sweat.

These sharp and to the point words, how can they possibly be things a calf who has only read a few years worth of books could utter?

The anger Xu Jianling suppressed inside was also crushed back down by Lin Xi’s words, a chilliness unknowingly spreading within his mind. He said strongly, “Sir, what you said is reasonable, but the situation is extremely complex, it isn’t as easy as it was said.”

“The things I have said obviously still can’t be considered the direct true reasons.”

Lin Xi gave Xu Jianling a look. Without paying Xu Jianling’s words any attention, he continued to calmly say, “The reason you are bringing up Black Oil and Stone Rats to me, it is nothing more than to remind me that these fellas are extremely fierce and unreasonable. If I control them too much, they might instead act against us. However, you all need to similarly understand that these types of lowlifes and river gangs, no matter how formidable they are, they are still bandits. If our Enforcer Office cannot deal with them, there is still Town Supervisor great one, also Yunqin’s army. When have Yunqin’s officials and Yunqin’s army not been able to deal with these lowlife gangs?!”

“That is why when you said you are unable to deal with them, apart from not daring to deal with them, it is also that you don’t want to deal with them. Always saying Fourth Grandpa Zhu this, Fourth Grandpa Zhu that, normally, you’ve been shown quite a bit of care by this Fourth Grandpa Zhu too, right?”

“Sir, what your respected self has said is correct.” When he heard Lin Xi’s ruthless and unrelenting questioning, Xu Jianling couldn’t hold back anymore either, furiously looking at Lin Xi and saying, “Your respected self has just arrived, perhaps you do not fear Fourth Grandpa Zhu, but our families are all in East Port Town, so there is no way we cannot feel any apprehension! We are scared of being beaten up, normally, Fourth Grandpa Zhu has indeed also shown consideration for quite a few people. People like us, we are completely small figures who can’t step on the bigger stage!”

After a slight pause, Xu Jianling then said fiercely, “Your respected self knows that there are only four members, but why are they not called Eldest Grandpa Zhang, Second Grandpa Zhu, Third Grandpa Zhen, and Fourth Grandpa Liu, why they are called Second Grandpa Zhang, Fourth Grandpa Zhu, Fifth Grandpa Zhen, and Seventh Grandpa Liu? I can tell you the reason, it is because their positions today were also seized through blades back then. There were originally eight brothers, but now, there are only four left. Right now, there is no lack of individuals who don’t treasure their lives under them. Even if they have to give up their lives to kill us, they still have more than enough lives to spare. If they trade a life for a life, it doesn’t violate our Yunqin’s laws at all. However, your respected self, how many lives do you have?”

“They have people, have money, and have patrons.”

Lin Xi instead smiled, turning around to give the older tofu vendor, Du Weiqing, Liang Sansi and the others a look. “It seems like what Xu Jianling says is the truth?”

After a bit of hesitation, Du Weiqing bowed again, saying, “Sir Lin, this is indeed the case.”

“Then why does Liu Tong need to trouble this madam here?” Lin Xi pointed at the white-haired tofu vendor. He looked at Du Weiqing and said, “I do not wish to hear any lies or nonsense.”

After revealing a bitter smile, Du Weiqing said, “Fourth Grandpa Zhu’s young concubine is eyeing a small riverfront building, but this building’s owner is Elder Mo, who owned a tea business. His temper is extremely tough, viewing it as an ancestral property, so he just isn’t willing to sell it. Then, Fourth Grandpa Zhu pulled some strings, so his tea business couldn’t be continued. He rented out half to this Granny Liu, if Granny Liu’s business can’t continue either, then the elder’s supply of rent would end, not having any income, difficult for him to continue living. At that time, he would have no choice but to sell that small building.”

After giving Granny Liu a look, Du Weiqing then continued, “Granny Liu’s son has owed too much from his tung oil business a few years ago, committing suicide by jumping into the river in the end, even everything in his house seized by the creditors. It should also be because that Elder Mo’s rent is cheap, which is why she lives there. She never expected Fourth Grandpa Zhu to not let her do business today either.”

“Is what he says the real situation?” Lin Xi looked at the elder who held two fishes and the others, asking this.

The elder and others, after a bit of hesitation, all nodded, saying, “It is.”

“It seems like Fourth Grandpa Zhu still knows some propriety when doing things, not sending someone to throw that elder directly into the river at night, still using up some brainpower, playing some small tricks. He really did go through quite a bit of trouble.” Lin Xi gave Liu Tong a look, saying this.

Liu Tong curled his lips, feeling like the other party already admitted defeat. With a smile, he said, “Fourth Grandpa Zhu has always understood propriety.”

“Even so, this pile of tofu might very likely carry the lives of two people.”

However, Lin Xi’s following words instead made his smile freeze on his face.

Lin Xi looked at him, saying with a serious tone, “What he never considered, is what if even though he did this, others still don’t wish to let him have this small building? What if he forcefully sent two people to their deaths?”

“Your lives are countless times better than theirs, yet because of some insignificant preferences, you are forcing someone out of their home. This type of conduct really is a bit too much.”

After a slight pause, Lin Xi looked at Liu Tong, saying, “Since he doesn’t know how to properly manage you all, I will escort you back. Have him come and meet me, I will tell him how to manage all of you.”

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