Cherished Troops Of Godly Speed Show Humanity
Idler’s Note: We are nearing the end of my bonanza of chapter releases. I will probably not be able to do daily releases for a while… As always, life and the need to eat gets in the way there. However, it will just mean a return to your regularly scheduled chapters though my fingers are still crossed on putting out 3 releases a week instead of just 2! If you have any suggestions, feedback, or just want to say hello, please comment below!
Disclaimer: This translation is by a fan for fans. Any opinions or commentary presented here are translated as is written by the original author. Any remarks by the translator will be in footnotes or in an editorial aside. The original work is the property of the author and any other associated copyright holders in their respective territories. Please do not reproduce, redistribute, or resell this translation anywhere else without permission! If you are reading this anywhere else but on WordPress, then it is being reposted without permission from the translator! If you are the copyright holder and/or have licensed this work for English publication and wish for this translation to be removed, please contact me to do so. Thank you!
Song Jing-gong originally didn’t intend to drink too much of this meal’s wine and just lightly taste several cups. But after several cups, he still got blurry, bending over to lie down there while his mouth still spoke non-stop words of flattery toward Steward Zhang.
Steward Zhang was also swaying a bit. He knew that his own alcohol limit was not like this but it had all been done by Little Mister. It wasn’t that the wine had been drugged but rather, it had been cooked in advance by people using a brazier within this somewhat narrow dining hall.
He didn’t know what oxygen deficiency was and didn’t know what was called a partial temperature increase in order to accelerate a person’s blood circulation so that the alcohol could more quickly affect the brain.
He only knew that since Little Mister had said this, then it absolutely couldn’t be wrong. After completing the arrangements for Song Jing-gong to rest, he went out again to do other things.
When Song Jing-gong woke up, it was already in the afternoon. After being fed wine sobering soup1 by the maid servant attending him, in a semi-conscious daze, he faintly heard someone speaking.
“Steward Zhang, who allowed you to decide on your own? Could it be that within your eyes, there isn’t my existence?”
Listening, it sounded like a woman. Song Jing-gong used his hands to rub at that still aching head as he bent his ear to listen carefully.
“No, this little one dares not. This little one only thinks that Mister Song has done well with his business. Thus, I thought to get some money. If Mistress won’t allow it, then this little one will go send him away.”
Song Jing-gong had now finally heard clearly. Speaking at the moment was that Steward Zhang. When he considered Zhang Manor’s situation, obviously, the person that could make Steward Zhang so fearful was that Mrs. Zhang-Wang.
Seeing that mistress was wanting to drive him away, Song Jing-gong was at once anxious. He was just preparing to come out and explain everything when he heard Mrs. Zhang-Wang speak again: “Steward Zhang, since the manor has been handed over to you, you will have to drum up 120% mental will. You must not allow people to fool you.”
“Mistress, you [honorific] rest assured, I absolutely won’t be swindled. That Mister Song isn’t that kind of person.” Just when Song Jing-gong worried that he’d be seen through, Steward Zhang’s voice rose up.
“Humph, not what kind of person? Could it be that you received his gift and are speaking on his behalf? I have heard people talking. That Song Jing-gong actually moved to Ge Manor to stay yesterday; this is wanting to flee after swindling the money.” Mrs. Zhang-Wang’s voice was heard once again.
Song Jing-gong felt a bit aggrieved upon hearing these words. If he could go out to explain it, he would definitely rush out to say that the people of the two manors in front of him were really too cheating.
But he had no way to say this. Did that Mrs. Zhang-Wang recognize who he was? If he really did rush out, then that would be unwise, ~ne.
Bearing a trace of concern, Song Jing-gong listened attentively over there as he hoped that at this time, Steward Zhang could put in a few good words for him. As expected, Steward Zhang spoke up there.
“In reply to Mistress’s words, I have already sounded out Mister Song today—especially while drinking wine. Mister Song, this person is really not bad. As for his going to another manor to rest, according to this little one’s guess, it certainly must be that manor has an acquaintance of Mister Song’s.”
“Fine, no need to say more. How could I be someone who can’t even clearly see through people? If he’s not trustworthy, then send people to follow that one surnamed Song. If my guess isn’t wrong, he basically doesn’t have any goods. During these several days, once he gets the money, he’ll go into hiding.
That store of his simply isn’t worth 300 silver taels. To not have seen even what the merchandise is like and you still dare to make this kind of plan, how can this manor be given to you to manage in the future? Humph!”
That displeased voice of Mrs. Zhang-Wang’s once again rose up, setting Song Jing-gong off into a startled jolt. He didn’t fear people investigating him but did fear if this Mrs. Zhang-Wang directly vetoed his suggestion. If it really was like that, then wouldn’t the money he had spent several days ago have convenienced others in vain?
Only after listening for a moment until the sound of a person’s footsteps gradually went away did Song Jing-gong slump down to sit on the small stool next to the windowsill as he considered what to do later on.
He waited until after he couldn’t hear any more sounds before he heard that Steward Zhang who hadn’t yet left summon people.
“Go call for Xiaoqi. Wait until Mister Song has left the courtyard to follow him. If you discover that he intends to leave, then swiftly return here to report to me.”
After an individual voiced confirmation and left, only then did Song Jing-gong sigh in relief as he inwardly resolved to not let people see any telling ‘horse hooves’2 no matter what. Then, secretly walking back in front of the couch to lie down there fully clothed while suppressing his headache, he fixed his eyes at the ceiling as he deliberated on how he should swindle this Zhang Manor’s money.
He didn’t think the Mrs. Zhang-Wang as mentioned by Steward Zhang would return so early—is this coincidence? Was it due to having heard of his arrival or lack of confidence in Steward Zhang that they purposefully worked like this?
With this lie down, Song Jing-gong blearily fell asleep, only waking until it had reached evening time. Rising up to leave the couch, he just thought of looking for Steward Zhang to take his leave when he heard Steward Zhang’s voice coming from outside the window.
“Has Mister Song woken up yet?”
“This servant doesn’t know; Mister Song has never exited the door.”
“Unh, wait until I’ve gone in to look; instruct people to prepare the food and wine.”
Song Jing-gong hearing the sound, feigned an appearing of having just woken up as he opened eyes hazy with sleep and waiting for Steward Zhang to enter through the door, he yawned as he said: “Steward Zhang drinks wine well. Ever since the meal, this Song still knew what was spoken of with Steward Zhang but afterwards, everything was actually forgotten—even how this room was reached can’t be clearly remembered.”
“Mister Song here is facing the manor without any qualms to be able to be so at ease drinking wine. This Zhang can’t do that. All of the big and small, great and little matters of the manor must be taken care of so drinking wine also needs to be held back a fraction. Otherwise, it’d be unknown what troubles will arise.”
Steward Zhang, his face bearing a smile, entered while looking toward Song Jing-gong as he laughingly spoke.
Song Jing-gong had no time to appraise the veracity of these words as he used his hand to press on his forebrow and said: “Looking at the sky outside, dusk should have arrived; this Song here won’t overly disturb you. Wait a few days later when that cargo has arrived, I will once again discuss in detail with Steward Zhang.”
“No hurry, no hurry. Go after having eaten dinner. People at the manor are all not so clever; to want to find a person to have conversations with is a struggle. Mister Song has managed to come by this once so at any rate, you mustn’t just leave like this.” Steward Zhang tried to intercept him.
“Many thanks to Steward Zhang’s good intentions. Only ‘tis a pity that this Song can’t overcome the wine’s strength as up to this moment, still have a splitting headache. Drinking isn’t possible, drinking really isn’t possible. After a few days, this Song will come by again.”
Song Jing-gong, whatever was said, wouldn’t eat here. What he wanted to do now was to put on a show to let people trust him. Whether he at a meal or not was even more unimportant.
Steward Zhang said a few words of persuasion again but Song Jing-gong persisted so with reluctance, he escorted Song Jing-gong outside of the gates. Then, he stood there, unwilling to turn back for a long time.
If switched with another person, they would already be moved but Song Jing-gong knew that there was a person called Xiaoqi who should be tailing him from a place he himself couldn’t see. Thinking on it, he decided to stay in the house of the Zhang Manor’s peasantry. Spending some money was of no matter but at least it allowed that Mrs. Zhang-Wang to be relieved.
The darkness of the night fell as the few people who had left Zhang Manor and Wang Manor continued hurrying on the road.
The nearest from the manor should be the Wei River3 if you wished to use boats to ship the goods and travel a bit less on the road. But the nearest from that side of Sanshui County was actually Luo River.4 According to the judgment of Song Jing-gong’s modus operandi, he should be stowing the cargo over there.
For the sake of not having it go awry, people were sent to both sides to investigate. Besides this, there were two more people heading to Sanshui County to set up there. The groups of people had been instructed that no matter where they went, they were all not allowed to reveal their identities.
Xinping City,5 several tens of li [mile]6 away from Tuqiao Village, welcomed two dust-ridden and travel-worn people in this early morning. These two people didn’t directly enter the city but in a place not far from the city, casually found a manor to stay in accordance to instructions. After sleeping well, they only woke up when it was after noon. After freshening up, they leisurely threw several copper coins to the family they borrowed lodging from before going out to ask around in all four directions where there were houses to be sold.
When others asked, they would say they came from afar and wished to find a house to reside in this place. After 1 hour, they finally found a family of people willing to sell a house and not caring that it was late in the day, dragged the people along to purchase the house that day.
One of them stayed behind to clean the house and hired people to raise a kang [bed-stove]. The other person hurriedly rushed back—it really was a starry night gallop. Returning to Zhang Manor in the ox hour7 at a quarter till 3AM, they ignored their exhaustion after entering the door and went straight to the courtyard within which Zhang Xiaobao was sleeping. Once in front of the door, they breathed heavily while making their report.
Finished speaking, the man was already too tired to stand up. Crouching down there with one hand on the ground, he kept on heavily huffing.
Hearing the noise, Xiaohong woke up Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan. The two of them exchanged a look before hurriedly getting up, letting Xiaohong carry them off the couch to light the lanterns and go out towards the door. Zhang Xiaobao even strained to hold up a bowl of water that had been placed by the couch.
Arriving outside and seeing that appearance of Zhang Si’s under the moonlight, Zhang Xiaobao nodded as he presented the water and said: “Well done, the Zhang Family will prosper because of you.”
“Thank you, Little Mister. The house has been bought. Little Mister, please command me.” Zhang Si took the bowl chugged it all down in one breath with a “gu-lu-lu” sound and after using a hand to wipe his mouth, he respectfully answered.
“Unh, that’s good. Go find Yingtao. Let her make the arrangements for the remaining work. Have to also trouble you for this one trip. Remember to be careful on the road.” Zhang Xiaobao, seeing that one matter had been accomplished, smiled and nodded as he spoke.
After Zhang Si had left, he then turned his head to say to Wang Juan: “This is the people that I, Zhang Xiaobao, want. How is the efficiency compared to that Special 2 Division of yours?”
“No more than ordinary. Don’t suppose that all the people of that place of mine all loaf around.9 The other 3 routes you sent out still haven’t come back, ~ne.” Wang Juan curled her lips as she disdainfully spoke.
“Didn’t mean to belittle that side of yours—I was just asking. Let’s return to sleep. Looks like we won’t need to go to sleep immediately. Let’s have milk first—a bit hungry right now.”
Zhang Xiaobao gave a “hei-hei” in laughter, then seeing his mother standing by the doorway, he sprinted two steps to throw himself into his mother’s embrace to play at being a child. Wang Juan rubbed her belly and discovering that there really wasn’t anything inside, also followed and walked over.
The Luo River banks also had two people over there that didn’t sleep as they watched those few boats moored at the docks, secretly observing using that periodic flash of the lamp light to carefully record the red and green item sticking out from the boat.
“Xiaomazi,10 you stay here to keep tight watch; I’ll return to report. The Zhang Family’s Little Mister is still waiting, ~ne.” One person looked for a while and feeling that they could remember the item’s appearance, spoke to the other person. When that other person nodded, they turned around to disappear into the darkness of the night.
The remaining person resisted the fatigue as they laid down on the grassy ground, allowing the dew to gradually soak their clothes as they motionlessly kept watch over the situation and listened to the conversation of the two people standing guard over there.
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The original Chinese text is “xing jiu tang” (醒酒湯), which is a soup that the Chinese believed could help sober you up and deal with hangovers. An alternate name is “jie jiu tang” (解酒湯), which could be translated as “wine detox soup.” They are essentially home remedies for drunkenness or hangovers. These soups are also the basis for the Korean hangover cure soup called Haejangguk (해장국/解酲국). ↩
The Chinese idiom here literally means “horse’s feet” or “hooves” (majiao/馬腳), which is used to depict a betraying or telling sign that something is wrong or false. It would similar in concept to a tell or giveaway to know when someone is bluffing in poker or lying. ↩
I haven’t been able to definitely confirm this but “Luo Shui He” (羅水河), which basically means “Luo water river,” is probably the Luo River (洛河), a tributary of the Wei River in Shaanxi Province. The reason I’m not sure is because there are several Luo rivers in China and the characters used for the real-life Luo River is completely different from the one named here. It is possible that the name the author gives is a historical name for the modern-day river that I am tentatively associating it with that isn’t coming up in my research though. ↩
“Xinping Chen” (新平城) is a city whose name means “new flat.” I haven’t been able to locate it on a map but it could be a city that the author made up or is the historical name of a defunct city or town or an outdated name for a city or town that is now no longer well known. ↩
Li/里 is the Chinese measurement unit for length and like other traditional units, could vary in value over history. It has been an unit that could measure anywhere from 405 meters to over 500 meters, which for the sake of reference is around a third of 1 mile long. In modern times, it has been standardized to be exactly 500 meters and can be divided into 1,500 chi. Because its relation to the other measurements for length is similar to the mile in comparison to the foot in the Imperial unit system, I will mark mile in text next to it to remind readers what role it plays as the Chinese version of it but since it is not actually equal to a mile, I will obviously not be converting its value. ↩
“Chou Shi” (丑時) is the 2 hour span of the day assigned to the Ox that spans from 1:00 to 2:59AM. Since the Chinese divided the day into 12 2-hour units shichen (時辰) and there are 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, each twelfth of the day is assigned a zodiac animal as one of the Earthly Branches. If you know the order of the zodiac, you know the order of the hours. The 12 Earthly Branches were combined with the 10 Heavenly Stems to produce a cycle of sexagenary cycle of 60 terms in what was a very ancient Chinese way of counting days or years that is now no longer relevant to keeping the calendar current though it comes up for certain ceremonies or rituals as well as in areas like astrology or fortune-telling. ↩
The name of “Zhang Si” (張四) is basically the Zhang surname with the number 4 as the given name. ↩
Wang Juan literally says “chi xian fan” (吃閒飯) which translates to “eat idle rice,” slang for people who do nothing but loaf around and eat rice (i.e. useless). Since the English verb “to loaf” has both an association with food (i.e. loaf of broad) and meaning associated with idleness, this explains my translation choice. ↩
“Xia Ma Zi” (小麻子) can either mean “little pockmark” or “little hemp child.” Either way, it’s an interesting name.