Within the city of Yuejing, the south district was distinctly different from the west district.
The west district’s tall and great residences were actually jaggedly arranged flat rooms. Those who lived there were all lower-class workers with odd jobs, small peddlers and merchants, and other impoverished people. Naturally, a portion were loafers who came from other districts aftering being kicked out of their household.
Far and away from the west region, the rich merchant households existed in the east district.
Although these households didn’t have anyone working in the bureaucracy and couldn’t live in the south district, their grand residence and courtyards were more magnificent than any other. None of them spared their great wealth in order to bring their households name to fame, suppressing other nearby great families and putting themselves on top.
Naturally, there were a few famous households that the others nearby fundamentality couldn’t compete against. Not only was the amount of land they owned great, but also their riches and prestige far exceeded the others’. The people who lived in these households were merchants that were beyond extremely wealthy
In a corner of the east district, such an extremely rich and powerful household existed, the Qin Residence.
Their residence spanned over one and a half acres. If one knew exactly how much land cost in Yuejing, one would be speechless for a long while.
Not only was the Qin Clan extremely wealthy, but they also controlled a fourth of the copper mines in the State of Yue. Furthermore, it was said that their clan master possessed remarkable ability and had officials that specifically spoke on their behalf in the royal court.
As such, even the servants of this great and noble household held great confidence, having more sway in their household than other servants.
The gatekeeper of the Qin Residence, Qin Gui, also thought as such.
Every time someone came to the Qin Residence requesting to meet with the clan master, regardless of their identity or background, even if they were a bureaucrat, they were always completely polite towards even a low servant of the Qin Clan and didn’t dare to offend them in the slightest.
As time passed, this caused Qin Gui to feel as if he himself were superior.
Thus, every time someone sought to pay respects and meet someone from the Qin Clan, their gifts naturally couldn’t be small. Otherwise, Qin Gui wouldn’t look upon them favorably; he might even wait three or four days before reporting their presence to a superior.
Naturally, if a great character knocked on their door, Qin Gui would act in accordance to custom, complete loyal subservience.
Towards those young masters and young madams who entered and left the estate frequently, he would eagerly and attentively be at their beck and call.
Although many of the masters whom Qin Gui served weren’t completely satisfied with him, word spread recently that he would be promoted to become an external steward and would go out to take control of some business. After Qin Gui heard this, he became increasingly happy, and in the following days, he felt that his steps were as light as a feather.
Right now, Qin Gui was arrogantly sitting a stool and lying in a shady, cool spot against the gate. This morning, the clan master had left to discuss some business. The several young masters and young madams had already left with their noble friends to take a stroll at Chongshan Temple. Currently, apart from the madams within the estate, only the widowed young madam Biao remained.
This caused to him let out a breath of relaxation, glad of the chance to take a break.
When Qin Gui was half asleep with a light cool wind blowing against them, he suddenly heard the shy voice of a male youth in front of him.
“Excuse me, is this the Qin Residence?”
Just as Qin Gui was about to fall asleep, this voice had disturbed him and woken him up. He felt extremely wronged and couldn’t help but loudly yell with great anger while his eyes remained closed, “Who are you shouting to! Are you wailing at a funeral! Can’t you see that the great Gui is lying down!”
With that said, Qin Gui was completely unwilling to open his eyes to take a look. His face wore an extremely resentful expression.
From the other party’s timid voice, he felt that the owner of the voice was but a minor character who dared to treat him so imprudently.
Qin Gui eventually had a clear look at the person before him, a coarsely-dressed man who appeared about twenty-four years old. He had an extremely ordinary appearance and had an early smell coming from his body. He was clearly one of those country bumpkins that had just arrived from the countryside!
(TL Note: the word meaning country side bumpkin is actually earth steam bun 土包子, heh; he's a steambun(idiot) that came from the countryside. )
Seeing this, Qin Gui became increasingly arrogant.
He sat up from his chair, and without saying anything further, he began showering down admonishments nonstop. It was as if disturbing the great Qin Gui’s rest was a severe and unforgivable sort of crime!
While he was reprimanding the newcomer, Qin Gui’s saliva splattered all around and continued spraying there for more than the time it took to make a cup of tea. This rustic youth appeared as if he hadn’t understood the great Qin Gui and appeared to at a loss for words. He could only listen to Qin Gui’s tirade with a foolish expression!
After a long while, Qin Gui clearly vented the fiery resentment within him before reluctantly stopping his verbal attack.
Soon after, he gave the youth a slanted look. It seemed as if he wanted to say something to him. He then casually asked, “What are you doing at our Qin Residence? We aren’t lacking laborers or servants. Hurry up and leave! The servants at this residence aren’t the same as other servants! We won’t take in those with muddy origins. Come back after you find a backer!”
Relying on his past experiences, Qin Gui immediately concluded this youth whose clothes still stunk of dirt was certainly someone who wildly imagined to work at the Qin Residence!
“I’m not looking for work... Qin Yan is my uncle. My family told me to deliver this letter to Uncle Qin!” The youth had recovered from the tempest of verbal abuse. After hearing Qin Gui’s words, he took out a wrinkled letter from his bosom and stuttered, giving Qin Gui an explanation.
“What? The lord is your uncle!”
Qin Gui had felt his mouth go dry, so he went to go take a few gulps from a nearby teapot. But when he immediately heard the youth’s words, he spit out a mouthful of tea from shock and asked this with a face pale from fright.
“This... I also don’t know. But my family had me address him as Uncle Qin!” The youth shook his head with a somewhat embarrassed appearance.
However at this moment, Qin Gui no longer dared to easily mock him. If this person truly had some relation to his own lord, then nothing good would come out of it.
Then after a moment of hesitation, he carefully asked, “That letter, could you let this one take a look at it? Please be at ease, esteemed sir. This one only wants to look at the surface of the letter. He doesn’t dare to tear it open!”
When the youth heard what Qin Gui said, he unexpectedly agreed, nodding his head. As he handed it over, he muttered something, “I originally wanted to hand this letter to you so you could quickly hand it over to Uncle Qin!”
Qin Gui took the extremely wrinkled letter and immediately looked at it several times.
Ordinary servants normally wouldn’t be able to read, but during Qin Gui’s childhood, he had spent half a year in a private school and was actually literate. As such, the much desired duty as gatekeeper fell upon him.
“To be personally opened by Honorable Nephew Qin Yan!”
These large pitch-black words on the letter caused Qin Gui’s heart to beat wildly. From their tone, it seemed the letter was written by his own lord’s senior.
WIth this thought, Qin Gui’s face immediately changed. With great effort, he squeezed out a faint smile and said to the youth, “Young Master, our clan’s lord is not here right now, but his wives are within. Would you like to pass this letter onto his wives?” Qin Gui couldn’t help but greatly change his attitude and immediately upgrade the youth’s title.
“This won’t do! This letter must be personally opened by Uncle Qin!” After the youth hesitate for a moment, he resolutely shook his head.
“So it’s like that. Then should I first make a report to the madams and see how they respond to your esteemed self?”
Qin Gui didn’t dare to let the youth leave. If this were an important matter and he were the one to interfere, then great misfortune would come around to meet him. But if he handed this matter over to the madams, then it wouldn’t matter what he did; as a long-time servant, he had his own scheming.
The youth readily agreed.
After Qin Gui let out a breath of relief, he hastily went to call for a passing servant to help him watch the youth and ran into the residence.
When other servants came across him and saw that he was running as if his buttocks were on fire, they were a bit shocked.
Qin Gui immediately ran to the back court and said a few words to the head maid there before returning to the entrance to deliver a response with relief.
Having returned to the entrance, Qin Gui hastily said a few words to the youth with a smile. A young attractive maid ran over.
When she arrived in front of the two, she took several curious glances at the completely rustic youth and relayed a madam’s reply. The youth would first rest in a side room and wait for the return of the lord before his identity was judged to be true or false. After all, there were a great many members of the Qin Residence; he could by the child of a senior’s concubine that came knocking on their door!
Since the higher ups had already dealt with this issue, Qin Gui felt at ease and continued to guard the main gate.
That young maid then brought the youth to wait at a guest room for the time being.
On the way, several people saw the youth’s rustic appearance and glanced at him several times in surprise, causing the youth to greatly feel uneasy. He simply lowered his head and continued following while looking the young servant girl’s back.
When the maid turned her head and saw the youth’s strange behavior, she couldn’t help but chuckle. She looked several at the man with beaming smiles, finding it quite entertaining.
When a side room in the front wing was arranged for the youth, the young maid repeatedly warned the youth to not run around and returned back to report while giggling.
After the young maid left the room, the youth with the originally clumsy appearance suddenly straightened his back, and the foolish dullness in his eyes could no longer be seen. This person seemed to appear confident and at ease. The slightest trace of his rusticness could no longer be seen.
“I truly did not think this Qin Clan was actually so well-known! It’s impossible for the Devil Dao to let such an obvious target pass by.” The youth took a look outside the room and slightly wrinkled his brow, muttering a few words to himself.
Han Li had exhausted himself by flying at top speed for over ten days before finally arriving at Yuejing. The Qin Residence was the target Li Huayuan requested Han Li to protect.
However, when Han LI thought of the identity Li Huayuan arranged from him, he couldn’t help but feel greatly gloomy.
In the letter, Li Huayuan had the Qin Clan Master arrange the identity of a Qin Clan side branch descendant, causing Han Li to play a destitute relative from the countryside. This was to fool the Qin Residence so he could remain for a long time.
Although Han Li disliked the identity of being a destitute youngster from the countryside, his disguise didn’t require any effort. After all, Han Li was the genuine child of peasant family of some remote countryside village. Thus, he didn’t need to put much effort to closely resemble the right tone and mannerisms.
After Han Li shut off the room, he meditated and refined Qi on the bed. He hoped that while he protected the Qin Residence, he would be able to slightly progress his own cultivation.
It was already evening by the time Han Li completed a cycle of cultivation. At this moment, someone finally knocked on the door.
Han Li’s spirit shook, and the expression on his face soon completely vanished. He immediately resumed the appearance of the foolish rustic youngster.
Once he opened the door, he saw a servant standing before him.
“My clan’s lord has returned. The madams are currently calling for you. Follow me!” The servant said to Han Li with no trace of politeness. He then turned around and left. It seems Han Li wasn’t worthy enough for the servant to put him in his eyes.
This was of no surprise. The gatekeeper Qin Gui was the same.
As a madam’s trusted aide, he had seen many destitute relatives of the Qin Residence arrive every year like an autumn wind. Naturally, he didn’t particularly pay them much mind.
This person thought was it was most likely the lord would meet with this country bumpkin, give him some silver, and then send him on his way. He basically wouldn’t stay in this residence for much longer!
Han Li sincerely agreed and followed this person out of the side room, heading straight towards the Qin Residence’s receiving hall.
At this moment, there was a graceful and magnificent madam who appeared over forty years old. She was sitting next to the Qin Clan Master Qin Yan and talking about Han Li’s arrival.
“Since he dares to come knocking on our door with a letter, he most likely isn’t a fake! It seems he was truly sent from a clan senior to come visit us.”
“Let us see what request he has in the end. If it isn’t excessive, then we will completely satisfy it! Don’t snobbishly cast out this branch clan member and soil our reputation. We cannot lose face because of this.”
Qin Yan was over fifty years old, but because he had took care of his health well, he appeared only forty years old, not elderly in the slightest. After he drank a gulp of swallow nest tea and moistened his throat, he said this leisurely.